Victims sexually abused by priests would be able to sue decades later under new deal
State lawmakers will announce on Thursday they have reached an agreement that will repeal New Jersey’s narrow two-year statute of limitations that childhood victims of sexual assault say have prevented them from suing churches and other nonprofits, NJ Advance Media has learned.
The new legislation, which has not yet been made public, will allow a victim of childhood sexual abuse to bring a civil suit up until the age of 55 or seven years after they make “the discovery that they connect the injury to the abuse,” said Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, the bill’s prime sponsor.
“They may have known they were abused but don’t connect the psychological damage to it,” Vitale said. “Two years is a ridiculously short time” to have to come to grips with what happened, and tell their families, he said.
The legislation also allows adult victims of sexual assault seven years to file a civil lawsuit, instead of the current two-year time limit, Vitale said.
This is a change long sought by sexual assault victims and most recently articulated by Katie Brennan, the state official who accused a member of Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign senior staff of raping her in 2017. The man she accused, Albert Alvarez, was never criminally charged and has described the encounter as consensual.
A hearing on the bill i...