New Jersey Abuse Statute of Limitations http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/the_states_highest_court_today.html
N.J. Supreme Court upholds time limits for sex abuse lawsuits
by Mary Fuchs/State House Bureau - Thursday June 11, 2009, 1:25 PM
TRENTON -- The state's highest court today upheld a statute of limitations law that determines when a victim of childhood sexual abuse can bring charges against the alleged abuser.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sent a Morris County man's case back to trial because it was "not clear" when the victim realized the alleged abuse had caused him irreparable damage. The law gives victims two years to sue the accused offender once they have realized the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse.
The man, identified as R.L., brought suit against his stepfather nearly two decades after the alleged sexual abuse occurred when he was 10 years old.
The justices said that a lower court "must determine" when the victim "discovered" he was injured by the claimed abuse.
The trial court initially ruled R.L. could not bring suit against his stepfather because of the statute of limitation. They determined that R.L. had made the connection earlier than he claimed.
The decision has been closely watched by victims of clergy sex abuse and their advocates because many victims don't often completely understand the extent of their injuries until adulthood, when it may be too late to press charges.
This ruling helps protect New Jersey's children. When victims are given chances to act, kids are safer. When victims are denied such chances to act, predators walk free and youngsters are violated.
Contact Mark Crawford (firstname.lastname@example.org ) with NJ courts in the subject line for more information.
Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director 314-862-7688
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
New Jersey's highest court has given more victims a chance to expose dangerous predators in court. The justices are part of a nationwide trend to make it easier for victims to use the justice system to achieve prevention, healing, and closure. Gradually, more and more people are realizing that kids can't immediately disclose horrific crimes by powerful authority figures, and need longer time periods to come forward.
Juries should decide when victims realized they were hurt. No arbitrary, predator-friendly deadline should protect those who molest kids and re-victimize those who have been assaulted.
We hope this ruling helps others who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes - or crimes to come forward and get help.
When victims and witnesses stay silent, nothing changes. But when they find the courage and strength to come forward, at least there's a chance for healing, justice, and prevention.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 20 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790, Barbara Blaine, SNAP President and Founder 312 399 4747, Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688