N.J. considers ending statute of limitations on civil suits over child sex abuse

The New Jersey Senate has delayed a vote on a measure that would eliminate the two-year statute of limitations to file civil lawsuits for child sex abuse.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Joe Vitale, says the bill was held because he wasn’t sure there were enough votes for passage.

Four Democrats were on vacation and unable to attend the rare summer session.

Mark Crawford, who was sexually abused as a child and is now an advocate for other victims, said Monday he hopes the Senate will approve the measure next month.

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“This is a simple choice. They’re either going to choose to do the right thing and protect children, or they’re going to choose to protect powerful institutions and the predators that are harming our children,” Crawford said.

The bill would hold institutions liable for sexual abuse committed by their employees.

The Catholic Church has lobbied against the measure, claiming it would benefit trial lawyers while having the potential to cause churches to go bankrupt.

“Even though the church says that ‘We’re OK prospectively because we found redemption, we’re OK now, we’re doing the right thing now,’ it doesn’t forgive the sins of the past,” said Vitale, D-Middlesex. “And so we have to make sure that those victims who have not been able to gain access to the court have that access no matter now old they are.”

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