The state has created a two-year window in which child sexual abuse victims whose deadlines passed for filing lawsuits will be allowed to bring those suits.
By now it is well known that pedophiles have for years intentionally infiltrated a variety of organizations that serve or involve children. Court orders and media reports have widely revealed the horrific history of this problem at the Boy Scout of America, which – like the Catholic Church – sometimes knew of the abuse, dismissed the abusers from the organization and did not report this to families of child victims or to law enforcement.
Shockingly, the organization started keeping their secret files on alleged abusers over 100 years ago in 1911.
Because the experience is so traumatic for children, it is not unusual for them to suppress the memories or keep the information secret for many years. Even as adults, it can take decades to even begin to talk about it. For these reasons, because there are deadlines for filing lawsuits – called statutes of limitations – under state laws for bringing civil suits for the injuries from sexual abuse, it is usually too late to even consider filing a suit once a victim is able to do so.
Because these organizational patterns of targeted abuse of kids have been coming to light in the last few years, some states have passed laws either changing their statutes of limitation to allow such suits to be brought by adults in certain circumstances or creating a window of time within which suits can be filed that were otherwise untimely.
New Jersey legislators created such a window that begins on Dec. 1, 2019 and ends two years later on Nov. 30, 2021. After that window closes, a new statute of limitations will take effect in child sexual abuse cases that is more expansive than the older law. The new SOL will allow an adult who was a childhood victim to sue for civil damages until their 55 th birthday or until seven years have passed since they started having psychological problems from the victimization.
New Jersey residents are expected to take advantage of the new law and file sexual abuse lawsuits against individuals and organizations when the window opens.
It so happens that the BSA had its headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 1954 to 1978. According to NJ.com, lawyers in other states across the country plan to file lawsuits in Middlesex County on behalf of out-of-state victims when the window opens Dec. 1 because the Boy Scout organization negligently developed its policies and practices at the headquarters that allowed the abuse to happen. In addition, the organization stored its “perversion files” about alleged abusers in that location.
NJ.com also reports that BSA is offering anyone who experienced abuse through their scouting experience free counseling from the provider of the victim’s choice.
Anyone who was a victim of sexual abuse as a boy scout should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to understand their legal options while the lawsuit filing window is open in New jersey as well as in their own states.
The lawyers at Andreozzi + Foote with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Arizona, represent childhood victims of sex abuse in civil lawsuits throughout the country.