For all the men here who are survivors of sexual abuse, and particularly those abused by members of the clergy please read the following and take the time to e-mail these state senators should you wish. I appreciate any support. Although the laws I am trying to change are here in New Jersey some of these laws still exist in a few other states, about 12. The rest have thrown out these laws some 20 - 30 years ago. Just because you don't live in New Jersey doesn't mean they shouldn't here from you, a victim. Let them know what the effects of childhood sexual abuse are and why these crimes are so heinous! Let it rip....they need to hear it. Also if you do know of anyone in New Jersey...please e-mail/forward this message along. Thank you...Mark

Dear family and friends,

I need your help. If you are a New Jersey resident there is information here you should be aware of. There is a law in our state some don't want you to know about. Please take a few minutes to read this.

I have a friend that was a victim of clergy sexual abuse as a young boy. Due to current state laws, such victims have little ability to pursue justice. He has been trying to change some laws in NJ but the state legislatures are ignoring him and the many other victims of clergy abuse in this state. The Star Ledger recently reported more than 147 cases of clergy sexual abuses were uncovered here in NJ, far more than in any other state. This is not a coincidence. Due to our states "charitable immunity act" these institutions are granted complete immunity from civil liability, when a member of its organization seeks restitution. Because these institutions are from any real liability they simply "recycle" these predators to other parts of our state. So, because my friend was a member of his church he could not seek civil restitution because as the law states "he derived a benefit from his association" with this church. Do you suppose he understood the "benefit" he was getting by his association, when as a young child, a priest was sexually molesting him for a period of several years? This is outrageous, had he been a member of a different faith he would have been able to bring suit. When a victim seeks restitution they are told that they (the institutions) are free from any real liability and the statute of limitations has long since expired. The have been offered a small settlement and at times asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. What other recourse do these victims have but to go to the media? Can you see how our state law unfairly protect these institutions and denies rights to these victims?

I am outraged and I know you are too. Everyone I have talked to feels as I do, no institution should be above the law. Several years ago my friend asked that a bill to amend this law be introduced into our state senate. In early 2000 senators J. Vitale –Dem Middlesex County and Senator L Basano –Rep Somerset County, introduced a bill, which would eliminate immunity for these institutions, only in cases of sexual abuse against a minor. Senator Gormley- Rep Atlantic ignored many requests to post this bill for a hearing, as he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He never once responded to my friends many requests. The bill was allowed to expire. The bill was reintroduced again this year as S-843. Even after the endless cases of clergy abuse covered by the media this year our state leadership has failed to enact any changes in any related laws when so many other states have already enacted new laws. I know several powerful institutions have lobbied these senators to not post this bill and so far these politicians have obliged them. I am appalled and I will remember this come election time and I hope you do too!

Please email every NJ resident you know and ask them to email the senators listed below. Feel free to cut and paste the paragraph below or send you own message. It is clear they have chosen to listen to these powerful institutions and their lobbyists, so it is time that they hear from YOU, their VOTING constituents. ONLY WITH YOUR HELP CAN WE CHANGE THIS LAW, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

If you are a New Jersey resident, please include your address and if this isn't comfortable, at least the town you live in, this will give your e-mail more credibility.

I am outraged at our state's lack of action and insist that you post and support bill S-843 in its current form. No institution deserves immunity from civil responsibility when children have been the victims of sexual abuse. Further there should not be any statue of limitations, civil or criminal, when these heinous crimes are perpetrated against our children. Why has our state leadership been so slow to act when many other states have already addressed these serious issues? Very few states have such a law granting immunity from responsibility, why do we still have this here in New Jersey? Why have we not adopted such a narrow revision, only removing immunity in cases involving the sexual molestation of our children?

Please e-mail or call ALL 5 Senators listed below…and THANK YOU for your time and concern.

Senator Gormley – Republican Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee - Atlantic City, 609-646-3500
Senator Adler – Democratic Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee - Cherry Hill, 856-428-3343
Senator Cody – Democratic Senate President - West Orange, 973-731-6770
John O Bennett – Republican Senate President - Freehold 732-863-1644
Senator Vitale - Democratic Senator who posted bill S-843.