Vitale, Quijano Issue Statement on Sexual Assault Bill to Expand the Statute of Limitations

Trenton – Today Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Assemblywoman Quijano issued statements on S-477 and A-865, identical legislation they sponsored to expand the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault.

“I am thrilled to announce that S-477, my bill to expand the civil statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault, will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday March 7th, 2019. This hearing will be open to the public for testimony, and I know it will be a bittersweet day for many.

“I want to thank all of the advocates, many of them victims and survivors themselves, who have worked tirelessly to see this bill heard in front of the Judiciary. Steadfast in their fight, and with great resolve, they recognize all victims deserve the same corridor to justice. They have had an immense amount of patience with me and my staff as we have grasped the weight of this issue over the last decade, and I will forever be in awe of their courage and bravery.

“We will be pursuing amendments to the current version of S-477 in order to do the following:

1) Allow child victims until the age of 55 to bring a civil case, or seven years from the time they make discovery, whichever is later.

2) Allow adult victims seven years to bring a civil case or seven years from the time they make discovery, whichever is later.

3) Create a two year window in which victims who were previously time-barred will have the opportunity to pursue their case.

“The bill will also allow victims to hold both the individual perpetrator and any liable institution to account. It will have an effective date of December 1, 2019 and the window will sunset on November 30, 2021.

“It is my greatest hope that when my colleagues hear the stories of suffering and trauma that victims and survivors have endured, they will recognize, immediately, the urgency of passing this legislation. We need to give victims more time to bring their cases and we need to do it now. Not one more victim should be turned away and denied their day in court. I ask my colleagues to support this measure and look forward to its passage, both out of the Judiciary Committee and by the full Senate, before the Legislature’s budget break.”

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the prime sponsor of the bill, A-865, in the Assembly, added:

“We know how difficult it can be to come forward for victims of sexual assault. Often survivors need time to understand and even fully remember, what were the most traumatic moments in their life. If we put short, arbitrary legal limits on their time to process we limit their ability to pursue justice.

“This bill is necessary. It’s necessary now and I am proud of all of those who have helped bring both this issue to light and this bill to the legislature.”