NJ Governor Signs Historic Bill to Extend Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse and Open a 'Window to Justice'
We commend Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Joseph Vitale, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, NJ SNAP leader Mark Crawford, and the hundreds of survivors and advocates who made this dramatic reform of the statute of limitations (SOL) in New Jersey possible. The new law will be one of the best in the nation, granting all sexual abuse survivors the opportunity to access the justice system.
Previously NJ had only allowed child sexual abuse victims two years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit against their perpetrators and the institutions that protected them. The new statute will extend the civil SOL to age 55, or seven years after the victims discover the connection of their emotional and psychological harm to their sexual abuse. It also opens a two year 'window to justice' to allow those previously barred by the state's extremely restricted SOL to take action. Finally, the new law extends the SOL for those who were sexually assaulted as adults from two years to seven years. These changes will help to bring accountability to any organization that harbors, conceals or protects those who sexually abuse children or vulnerable adults.
By taking this step today, New Jersey is providing an excellent example to other states of concrete legislation that can help survivors, create informed communities, and safeguard the vulnerable. We hope that legislators throughout the U.S. will seek opportunities to learn more and reform statutes of limitations laws or create "windows to justice" in their own states.
We want to thank Mark Crawford and Senator Vitale for their continuing efforts to change the law, as well as all the NJ lawmakers who saw the need for those changes.
But most importantly, we want to express our gratitude to all those survivors who stepped out of the shadows and spoke out, telling painful stories of their past to help ensure that others will not be abused in the future.
New Jersey will become a safer place because of your willingness to come forward.
If you were abused within the Catholic Church in New Jersey, please make a report to the Attorney General's Hotline (1-855-363-6548). AG Grewal's investigation has already resulted in one conviction so far in 2019. We hope that with the passage of this important reform today, more survivors will be empowered to come forward, assist in the ongoing investigation, and keeps children in New Jersey safer.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)