Sex abuse statute of limitations bill held; Vitale talks of need for grand jury

TRENTON – The sponsor of a bill that would lift the statute of limitations on civil suits brought by victims of sexual abuse expressed confidence the bill will be passed eventually.

Victims of such abuse, after today’s bill was held from a vote in the Senate, also expressed confidence that it will eventually get passed.

But the disappointment both parties expressed today was clearly evident.

Sponsor Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, talked of the necessity for such a bill to help find justice for sex abuse victims and referenced the lack of other avenues for redress in the state.

“Has there been a grand jury in New Jersey?’’ he asked, then answered his own question. “No. Should New Jersey have one? Yes.’’

He talked of how the churches keep “meticulous” records going back years that would prove vital to lawsuits should this bill become law.

Mark Crawford, a victim of sex abuse, said there is no doubt that institutions such as schools and churches have accumulated knowledge going back years about children who have been abused.

Removing the two-year statute of limitations is only a matter of time, he said. “Other states have done it,” Crawford said, who added that fewer than 2 percent of the allegations that are brought turn out to be false.

“Should we not pursue justice,’’ he said, more cases of abuse will surface.

“It’s a simple choice,’’ said Crawford, who is the N.J. director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “We can protect the victims, or we can protect the powerful institutions that are harming our children.”

Vitale said after the Senate session today that he did not anticipate his bill would undergo any changes.

Earlier story:

Sexual abuse statute of limitations bill held