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 full Senate today.
“For over a decade, the advocates and their organizations have worked countless tireless hours to get this bill to the floor. We could not have done this without them,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Their work is an affirmation for all survivors of sexual assault, past and present, and it is a victory for justice in New Jersey.
“Sexual assault and rape are unique, horrific and violent crimes, particularly when it happens to a child. There is too much understanding today about the suppression of childhood trauma, too many testimonials on the internal turmoil that prevents a survivor from coming forward. Last week we heard survivors speak for hours about their struggles coming to grips with their childhood experiences and the time it took to realize the damage that had been inflicted upon them. The standard statute of limitations, simply, is woefully inadequate. They deserve to seek justice and passing this today, affords them that opportunity.”
The bill, S-477, would 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 turns 18, that person would be able to file a claim any time up until they turn 55. Once signed, the bill would go into effect December 1st, 2019.
All victims would also benefit from a seven year discovery rule, meaning they would have seven years from the time the victim connects the trauma they suffered to the abuse they endured, to pursue justice. Additionally, any person previously time barred by current limitations would have a period of two years from implementation to bring a case.
“It’s time to stand up for the survivors of sexual assault,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “If our institutions cannot keep their members safe or hold their employees accountable, then we will. With this bill, we are making it clear; New Jersey stands with the survivors, first.”
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 32-1.