TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the prime sponsor of legislation to remove the legal protection for charities that negligently put children in harm’s way by harboring sexual predators, issued the following statement today on Governor Codey signing the bill into law:
“With a signature, we are finally able to bring justice to those who have had to suffer from the shame and mental anguish of sexual abuse because a charitable organization negligently turned a blind eye on the predators in their midst.
“For too long, some charitable groups have hidden these predators from the light of public scrutiny, only to have to fabricate another cover story, and jeopardize another parish, another classroom, another group of innocent children. I’d like to say that these incidents were the exception, rather than the norm, but unfortunately, in many of these cases, it was a matter of institutional policy, not an isolated event.
“To put innocent children within arms’ reach of a man or woman battling compulsions of a sexually perverse nature is inexcusable and indefensible, and now, the charities responsible do not have the shield of charitable immunity to hide behind any longer.
“I do not want to take from the many good works charities do in our State for our residents, but the fact of the matter is that some charitable organizations perpetrated conspiracies on their members, sometimes for decades, and that led to the prolonged and continued abuse of potentially hundreds of children in New Jersey alone.
“The scars of sexual abuse do not heal easily, but hopefully, with time, compassion, counseling and a measure of justice, many of the victims will be able to get on with their lives. Up until today, those who have suffered because of a charitable organization’s deceitful and negligent actions only had the first three at their disposal. Now, we are giving them the chance at justice, and ensuring that no child in New Jersey shall ever suffer again from sexual abuse conducted under the cloak of charitable immunity.”