The new law makes it easier for victims to sue attackers and seek damages from abusers and enabling institutions.
A long sought after law expanding the rights of sexual abuse victims took effect in New Jersey this past December. Often referred to as “sweeping” in the eyes of policymakers and advocates, the changes are two-fold:
- extending the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases; and,
- providing the ability to not only sue abusers, but also, those institutions that enabled them.
Previously, victims of sexual abuse were bound by a very narrow timeline to pursue their attackers. Specifically adult victims had only two (2) years and children up to 20 years old to sue their abusers. The new law dramatically extends the previous limitations providing those who allegedly suffered sexual abuse the ability to seek legal action until they turn 55 years old or within seven (7) years of recognizing the harm such abuse caused them. By adopting this change, New Jersey has created a window that further allows adults to pursue their attackers.
In addition to more time for filing lawsuits, sex abuse victims are able to seek damages from both their abusers and the institutions that may have protected them. This is being hailed a big step in protecting children from predators and their enablers. The Catholic Church may be one of the more well-known opponents to this bill, stating it could lead to cases based on shaky evidence, but they too recognize “the need to restore justice for the victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey,” said the Archdiocese of Newark at the time of the bill signing.
Enacting these changes wasn’t easy, but after 15 years, victims and advocates were heard and the expanded law is now in effect. Said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy when signed into law, “Survivors of sexual abuse deserve opportunities to seek redress against their abusers.” He went on to add, “This legislation allows survivors who have faced tremendous trauma the ability to pursue justice through the court system.”
If you find yourself charged with a criminal offense, or have questions about this new law, you should seek experienced legal counsel. To schedule a confidential consultation with the attorneys at Neff & Sedacca, P.C., contact the firm by phone at 215-563-9800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.