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Less than one day remains for victims to file lawsuits for old sex abuse cases in New Jersey. Under the 2019 Child Victim’s Act, survivors of child sexual abuse in New Jersey were given the opportunity to file a civil claim against the individual who hurt them and the institutions responsible, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. But the legislation only gave victims a two-year window to take action and hold abusers accountable. That “lookback” window is coming to an end. Less than one day remains for survivors of sexual abuse in New Jersey to file civil claims against the individual that hurt them. Lawsuits must be filed by November 30, 2021. 

When Governor Phil Murphy signed the Child Victim’s Act into law in 2019 he stated, “I cannot deny victims the ability to seek redress in court for sexual abuse that often leaves trauma lasting a lifetime. I am confident that our judicial system is the right forum to assess these claims fairly and impartially.” The Child Victim’s Act has made it possible for sexual abuse victims in New jersey to come forward, even if they are older adults. It also opened a crucial two-year “lookback” window for survivors to file cases previously barred by statutes of limitation against their perpetrators and the institutions that failed to protected them – no matter when the abuse occurred. That two year window ends on Tuesday November 30, 2021 

Almost 900 cases have been filed since the lookback window was opened in 2019. Shortly after the first lawsuits were filed in January 2020, ProPublica released a report revealing that almost 200 priests in New Jersey had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing parishioners. So far over 60 percent of the cases have been filed against clerics and/or religious institutions, with the Catholic Church named in the bulk of those. Additionally, one-quarter of the cases named the Boy Scouts of America as the defendant. Victim’s advocates say it often takes decades for people to feel comfortable enough to talk about being abused, and many of the cases filed against these institutions go back decades. Often these victims were unable to talk about abuse or face their accusers until well into adulthood, putting the crime beyond the statute of limitations. The New Jersey lookback window opened a path for victims to seek closure, but it will close tomorrow.

This lookback window may be the best opportunity to finally bring your abuser to justice. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse in New Jersey, Saunders & Walker can help, but  it is critical you act immediately. Survivors must file by Tuesday, November 30. If a trusted adult, such as a priest or Scout leader sexually abused you, or anybody you know in New Jersey, please contact Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 to discuss your legal options. All conversations will be kept strictly confidential.

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