Frequently Asked Questions About Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases in New Jersey
New stories of clergy sexual abuse have become more frequent, which raises questions regarding the legal options available to sexual abuse victims and how the legal process works. We asked the sexual abuse civil litigators at New Jersey’s Leonard Legal Group to discuss the most common questions they receive from victims of sexual abuse, and what they think is important to know for those considering filing a claim of sexual abuse.
How much time do I have to file a claim of sexual abuse against a clergy member?
The statute of limitations – the legal time frame for filing a civil claim with the courts – varies from state to state. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations was recently changed to allow additional time for survivors of sex abuse to file a claim.
What were the recent changes to New Jersey law regarding the statute of limitations?
The New Jersey Senate and General Assembly recently approved legislation that would expand the state’s statute of limitations for sexual assault victims for civil cases which was recently signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Under the new law, child sexual abuse victims will have until the age of 55 – or seven years from when they discovered their abuse – to file a claim. The legislation provides seven years for adult victims of sexual abuse to file a claim, or seven years from when they discovered their abuse. The law also provides two years for older victims of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit, permitting those victims to file until November 30, 2021.
If I suspect child sexual abuse, am I required to report it?
Yes. The state of New Jersey has mandatory reporting laws, under which anyone who has reason to suspect child sexual abuse is required by law to report it. Anyone reporting suspected child abuse in good faith is immune from any criminal or civil liability as a result of the reporting.
Can a church be held liable for clergy sexual abuse?
Yes. Churches and their governing organizations can be held liable for clergy sexual abuse. The liability is based on the church or governing body’s negligence. For example, if a church is aware of sexual abuse in the congregation but fails to report it or take appropriate action, they can also be held liable. Each individual case of clergy sexual abuse is unique and should be discussed with our experienced sexual abuse attorney at Leonard Legal Group.
You do not need to suffer in silence, contact our compassionate attorneys today for legal guidance
At the Leonard Legal Group, our experienced civil litigators understand the challenges clergy sexual abuse victims face when seeking justice against their abusers. Our skilled team provides compassionate counsel, answering your questions, explaining the legal process, and discussing your options. If you have experienced sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, you do not need to suffer in silence. You have choices. To arrange a free confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact our office at 973-984-1414 or contact us online.