Victims Now Have Greater Opportunity for Vindication
John E. Keefe, Jr.
The media exposure of child sexual abuse committed by clergy, Scout leaders and others, coupled with public outrage over the responsible institutions’ protection of the offenders has spurred some states to expand their statute of limitations periods for these crimes. To clarify, a statute of limitations sets legal timelines within which a person can bring legal action against a defendant. Currently the New Jersey statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims is two years and victims cannot file a claim or lawsuit after they reached the age of 21.
On May 13, 2019, Governor Murphy signed legislation (S477) that gives sexual abuse victims considerably more time and opportunity to file suit. The legislation goes into effect on December 1, 2019.
- Victims of child sexual abuse can now sue their abusers up until they turn 55, or within seven years of their realization that the abuse caused them harm.
- Victims previously barred from suing their abusers and the institutions that protected them due to the old statute of limitations will have two years to file lawsuits seeking damages.
- Those who were sexually assaulted as adults can also file lawsuits.
This legislation also abolishes immunity from nonprofit corporations, societies or associations organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes. Employees of these organizations are also no longer immune to prosecution.
Keefe Law Firm is vehemently committed to advocating for sexual abuse victims and we are accepting claims from minors and adults against any culpable institutions covered under this legislation.
John E. Keefe, Jr. is the managing partner of Keefe Law Firm and the immediate past president of the New Jersey State Bar Association.