State Senator Says Film Underscores Need to Reform Charitable Immunity Laws in New Jersey
TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale will host a screening of the Academy Award nominated documentary “Twist of Faith,” to put a human face on clergy sex abuse cases in New Jersey and underscore the need for charitable immunity reform, tomorrow, May 12, at noon and 3:00 P.M. in Committee Room 1 in the Statehouse Annex.
“The film is a visceral reminder of the impact of clergy sex abuse on the survivors’ lives,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the prime sponsor of legislation to remove charitable immunity protection from groups that knowingly and negligently put children in harm’s way from sexual predators. “However, we also need the Legislature to understand that sexual molestation in charitable groups is not confined to the actions of one or two sexual predators hiding behind a good cause, but rather, a systemic problem that must be addressed through reform to truly protect our children. The guilt and feelings of worthlessness associated with sexual abuse many times stay with the survivors for the rest of their lives, and charitable groups that do nothing to address allegations of abuse should not be shielded from litigation by State law.”
The film, “Twist of Faith,” directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Sheila Nevins and Eddie Schmidt, deals with a firefighter’s struggle to overcome the psychological trauma of having been abused by a priest when he was a child. The film has received national acclaim, having been nominated for an Academy Award, as well as the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and has been heralded in Variety magazine as a “powerful and damning look at the long-term impact of sexual abuse.”
Senator Vitale’s bill, S-540, would allow victims of sexual assault, who were abused while under the care of a charitable organization, to bring lawsuits against the organization if it can be shown that the organization acted with neglect in regards to hiring and retaining employees with histories of criminal activity or sexual deviancy. The organizations would also be liable for cases of abuse that fall within New Jersey’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits, which is two years after the discovery of lasting injury due to the abuse, or the age of maturity, set at age 20 by State statute.
The Senator and other advocates for charitable immunity reform will be on hand to answer questions from the media. The film will be shown at two separate screenings, at noon and 3:00 P.M., in Committee Room 1.
CLICK HERE TO READ A REVIEW FROM VARIETY MAGAZINE ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY, “TWIST OF FAITH”
WHO: Senator Vitale, Charitable Immunity Reform Advocates
WHAT: Host film screening for “Twist of Faith,” a documentary about clergy sex abuse
WHEN: Thursday, May 12, at noon and 3:00 P.M.
WHERE: Committee Room 1, Statehouse Annex, Trenton