Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, which would expand the statute of limitations in certain civil actions for sexual abuse, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
“Today is a testament to all those who have worked tirelessly to bring this legislation forward,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “It is a tribute to all survivors of sexual assault, past and present, and it is a victory for justice in New Jersey.
“The nature of sexual assault and rape is such that the standard statute of limitations cannot justifiably apply. We know too much about the suppression of childhood trauma, the internal turmoil and the social pressures that handicap a survivor’s capacity to seek justice to also limit them by law. I am grateful to all the survivors and advocates who have helped craft this bill, the people who are determined to restore justice for those who have been denied it. I look forward to continuing our work as we pass this on the Senate floor.”
The bill, S-477, will extend the current statute of limitations from two years to seven years for adult victims of sexual assault. Additionally, if an incident of sexual assault occurs before the victim turned 18, that person would be able to file a claim any time up until they turned 55. Once signed, the bill would go into effect December 1st, 2019.
“The time to stand up for victims of sexual assault is long overdue,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Our children and our communities will be safer when justice has the opportunity to truly be served. I’m proud to fight for and support those who have been impacted by sexual assault but silenced by our judicial system.”
Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon (D-Monmouth) is one of 15 co-sponsors of the bill.
“Survivors of child abuse suffer long standing and sometimes lifelong affects,” said O’Scanlon. “Therapy, medication, and issues holding a job due to the trauma they experienced all have a significant monetary impact. A two year statute of limitations for civil action is simply not enough for these survivors to potentially gather the strength they need to confront their abuser. Recent stories of horrific abuse make it clear how necessary this legislation is. I’m proud to be a sponsor and see it move forward today.”
The bill cleared committee by a vote of 8-1, and next moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.