Reports of sexual abuse in New Jersey churches are on the rise, most notably with nearly 200 priests accused of sexual abuse by Catholic Church officials. As these reports make headlines, it is important for victims of sexual abuse to understand their rights and their legal options for seeking justice against their abusers. Skilled civil litigators at New Jersey’s Leonard Legal Group are experienced in handling such sensitive cases, advocating for clergy abuse victims and holding abusers accountable.
Sexual abuse by clergy members is not limited to one religious group. The abuse may be carried out by priests, reverends, nuns, bishops, deacons, rabbis, pastors, imams, youth group leaders, and other religious leaders. In most cases, the sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone who knows the victim and has some level of familiarity. When sexual abuse is carried out by an authority figure in a religious institution such as a church, which is based on a level of trust, the abuse is both physically, emotionally, and psychologically damaging for the victim.
Under New Jersey’s mandatory reporting laws, anyone with reason to suspect child abuse is required to report it. The state has established toll-free hotlines for this purpose, to encourage early intervention to protect the child, and to allow for anonymous reporting. Any individual who reports suspected child abuse in good faith or testifies in a child abuse hearing that is the result of the report is immune from any criminal or civil liability as a result of this action.
New Jersey’s current statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims – the legal time frame for filing a claim in the civil court system – is two years from the time the incident occurred or from the time the abuse was discovered. New Jersey legislators recently passed a bill that would expand the statute of limitations for sexual assault victims and the bill is before New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for consideration. The proposed bill allows that child victims of sexual abuse may file a suit until the age of 55 years, or seven years from the time they realized they were abused. Furthermore, this legislation provides a two-year window for those victims who were previously unable to file suit under the statute, so they have the opportunity to pursue legal action.
At the Leonard Legal Group, we understand that allegations of sexual abuse are personal, emotional, and painful to discuss. Our compassionate legal team is available to help you through every step of the process to hold your abusers accountable for their actions. Scott G. Leonard is Board Certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Civil Trial Lawyer, a designation achieved by less than 2 percent of all New Jersey attorneys. We are available to answer your questions, explain the steps involved, and discuss your legal options. To speak confidentially with a member of our team, arrange a consultation by contacting our office at 973-984-1414 or contact us online.
Phone: (973) 984-1414
165 Washington Street
Morristown, NJ 07960
Franklin Lakes Office
841 Franklin Avenue Unit 6
Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417