No statute of limitations for child sexual assault
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Victims of childhood sexual abuse deserve access to our judicial system. New Jersey's civil statute of limitations almost always excludes child sexual assault victims an opportunity for justice because New Jersey's Statute is way too short, only 2 years from the age of 18 or 2 years from discovery.
We urge all NJ lawmakers to support and pass bill S280 into law, eliminate the civil statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse and create accountability for any institution or organization that would knowingly put our children in harms way.
As a young child I as well as my younger brother were sexually and emotionally abused for several years by a member of the clergy. It took me almost 40 years before I could speak out as my perpetrator continued public ministry, my younger brother will never recover from the abuse and emotional scars inflicted upon him by this violent predator. This is why I call upon you today to PLEASE HELP the countless child victims of sexual abuse simply obtain access to our legal system.
The burden of proof remains ALWAYS on the victim, not the offender. Although physical evidence of sexual abuse years later is often non existent, there often exists much evidence, such as prior allegations, investigations, complaints, written letters, even letters of admission from the offender (as it was in my case), e-mails, text messages. Yet even in cases where such evidence exists, these victims are denied access to our courts and such evidence is never revealed due to this states Statute of Limitations laws, which clearly favors the predator.
Mental health experts agree, it takes child victim decades to come forward, if ever. The skilled predator often installs shame and guilt leaving the child to believe he or she is to blame for the abuse. When a predator is a part of the victims social circle or a plays an important role in the child's life, such as a teacher, coach, counselor, or clergymember, they fear others will side with the adult abuser, instilling in the child intense feelings of isolation, fear, shame and guilt which results in low self esteem. Greatly conflicted, the child is unable to sort out the good derived from the perpetrator and the extreme emotional harm being inflicted from the abuse resulting in countless negative coping mechanisms often exhibited well into adulthood. These children often take decades to even admit to themselves that what was perpetrated upon them was in fact abuse of a most egregious kind.
One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are the victims of unwanted sexual contact by the age of 18. We are all impacted by the scourge of sexual abuse of children in many ways; you may not be aware but people around you and I have had sexual assault histories. Survivors must often overcome all kinds of addictions, low self esteem, lack of trust for those in authority, trouble with intimacy, unable to maintain relationships and the list can go on. By the time a child victim makes the connection between the abuse and all the negative behaviors he or she is trying to come to terms with the statue of limitations has long since expired preventing what might be the only avenue left for the victim to obtain some level of closure.
Additionally, when victims can bring such cases to court it exposes predators who might otherwise continue to move about society unknown. Nor should we continue to allow institutions or organizations the ability to protect it's own reputation before protecting our children from known offenders. Regardless of other "good works" they may do for society. Good, ethical organizations or institutions would not be allowed to "recycle" known sexual predators, but because there exists no penalty for those entities which choose to protect self interests instead of children, there exists no impetus for real change or reform.
We call on Senate President Stephen Sweeney to allow Senate bill S280 to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee and voted upon by the full Senate, we call on his support as he has committed to in the past. We also urge the Governor to support this bill unchanged and ask all NJ lawmakers to put protection of our children from known sexual predators before the interests of powerful institutions and organizations. Eliminate the civil Statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse and hold to account those who would put our children in harms way. Please help us create a safer and healthy society for our children, sexual abuse is all too often "Taboo" and most unpleasant to discuss. Let's change that today and let your voice be heard, please stand with us and urge of NJ Lawmakers to protect our children.
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