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Media Advisory – Vitale To Attend Candlenight Vigil To Support Charitable Immunity Reform

NEWARK – Senator Joseph F. Vitale will attend a candlelight vigil this Saturday night in Newark in support of clergy sex abuse victims, and legislation he sponsored to remove a charitable organization’s immunity from lawsuits when they act negligently and put children at risk for sexual molestation.

“This vigil is a grassroots call for justice in New Jersey,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “For too long, irresponsible charitable organizations have hid behind the shield of charitable immunity while the organizations’ policies have continually put kids in harm’s way, exposing them to dangerous sexual predators because the charity opted not to do what’s right. I am proud to stand with those seeking justice and demand a better standard in the Garden State.”

Vigil coordinator Mark Crawford of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), estimated that the event would bring out about 100 supporters of charitable immunity reform.

“It’s great to have Senator Vitale with us at the vigil, because he’s been such a vocal proponent of reform, and we stand to send a strong message to the establishment in New Jersey that it’s time,” said Crawford. “We can no longer allow children to be put at risk while we offer protection to negligent charitable organizations. The goal of charity work should be to better humanity, not to hide from justice.”

Charitable immunity is the Statewide doctrine allowing charitable organizations to avoid lawsuits so that the organization isn’t bankrupted by expensive litigation. However, in recent years, it has been used as a shield to ward off lawsuits from those who have been sexually abused while under the care of the charity, even when the charity’s policies seem to be at fault. Senator Vitale’s bill, S-540, would remove charitable immunity protection when it is deemed that an organization acted negligently, and that the organization’s negligence led to the sexual abuse of a minor.

The candlelight vigil will be held at 8:00 PM on Saturday, December 4th across the street from the Basilica Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.

WHO: Senator Vitale, Mark Crawford, approximately 100 supporters of charitable immunity reform

WHAT: Candlelight vigil supporting clergy sex abuse victims

WHEN: Saturday, December 4th at 8:00 PM

WHERE: The Basilica Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge Street, Newark

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