New Jersey lawmaker seeks investigation into Catholic clergy sex abuse

Inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2001. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

Inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2001. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

A New Jersey lawmaker is asking the state attorney general to impanel a grand jury to investigate sexual misconduct in New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses.

Sen. Joe Vitale’s request follows a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that said 300 priests sexually abused more than a thousand children in six dioceses over more than 60 years.

“Some of the priests that were mentioned in the Pennsylvania grand jury report were transferred to New Jersey where they continue to be part of the institution and have access to children,” said he said.

Vitale said he plans to introduce legislation that would permit the names of those credibly accused of sexual abuse to be released.

“In New Jersey, the way the current law is written, all those names would have to be redacted. The abuse would still be public — what happened, when it happened, how many times it happened, to whom it happened,” he said. “But not who did it, and that has to change.”

And the two-year statute of limitations for child sex abuse should be expanded so victims have more time to bring their claims, said Vitale, D-Middlesex.

“Their lives have been changed since the day they were raped, and they’ve never improved,” he said. “It’s a crime against humanity. It is awful. I don’t know why there’s any reluctance from anyone to move on this legislation and to find justice for these victims.”

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said it’s reviewing Pennsylvania’s grand jury report to determine what additional actions may be appropriate in New Jersey.

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