TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, today released the following statement regarding today’s scheduled Assembly vote on S-540, the which modifies the Charitable Immunity Act:
“For the past year and a half, the men and women standing here today, along with countless others, have worked tirelessly to create legislation that will finally give all victims of childhood sexual abuse the right to hold those responsible for those crimes accountable, no matter when the abuse occurred. Today that hard work comes to an end as the General Assembly votes to give the bill final approval.
“In 1992, when the Legislature passed the Child Sexual Abuse Act, they expanded the rights of children who were sexually abused, recognizing that a victim of child sexual abuse may very well repress the memory of their abuse. By expanding the statute of limitations to two years from the time of discovery rather than only two years from the time the child turned 18, the Legislature empowered many more victims to take action. Today the Assembly has the opportunity to take the next logical step and hold non-profit institutions equally accountable under the Act.
“Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the original Child Sexual Abuse Act was that it applied retroactively. The proposal made by the Catholic Conference to limit the retroactivity of today’s legislation to 1992 when the Child Sexual Abuse Act was signed into law is more than unacceptable, it’s morally wrong. It is imperative that the Assembly pass the legislation in its current form, granting all victims of sexual abuse the same rights, regardless of where the crime was committed.
“I commend Assembly Speaker Sires for making this bill a priority during the final weeks of this legislative session. I want to thank Senator Nia Gill, as well as Assembly members Neil Cohen, Anthony Chiappone, Christopher Bateman and Patrick Diegnan for co-sponsoring this legislation with me. Above all, it is the victims I have been working with and their families who deserve the greatest recognition and credit for getting this bill passed. The sacrifices they have been willing to make to ensure that justice is preserved is inspiring.
“I look forward to joining Assemblyman Cohen on the floor of the Assembly today as he casts his vote in favor of this legislation and in favor of these victims and their desire to finally have justice served.”