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Bill Offers Legal Help to Sexual Abuse Victims [AUDIO]

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Legislation aimed at gaining justice for sexual abuse victims was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Under the measure sponsored by Democratic Assembly members Annette Quijano, Peter Barnes and L. Grace Spencer, the statute of limitations would be removed in civil actions for sexual abuse. Under current law, personal injury suits must be filed within two years for most incidents. The two-year limit would be lifted for children who are victims of sexual abuse, as well as allegations against members of a nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable or education purposes.

“For some victims, the sexual abuse is revealed later in life. But the time that may have transpired does not change the fact that the abuse happened, nor the consequences it had on the victim,” said Assemblyman Barnes. “I can only imagine how difficult it must be to come to grips with the abuse and come forward. These victims deserve justice, regardless of the time lapsed.”

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano said recent events across the nation have highlighted the pervasiveness of the problem, and the reluctance of victims to step forward until years after the abuse occurred.

“It has become clear that justice is being repeatedly denied to these victims of this disturbing crime, which is why the removal of the statute of limitations is essential for sex abuse victims in New Jersey,” she said.

Other states have no statute of limitations on these cases, or varying levels of time restraints.

The bill would also make public entities liable in actions for damages alleging sexual abuse, and expand the category of persons who are potentially liable in a civil action alleging the sexual abuse of a minor.

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