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N.J. sexual-assault victims will soon have more time to sue abusers under bill that just passed

N.J. sexual-assault victims will soon have more time to sue abusers under bill that just passed

Despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, state legislators passed a bill on March 25, 2019, giving victims of sexual assault in New Jersey significantly more time to file lawsuits against their abusers.

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bill, which had been stalled in the state Legislature for more than two decades.

The state Assembly voted 71-0 with five abstentions Monday to approve the measure (S477), which would vastly expand the current two-year statute of limitations for such civil suits to seven years in most cases.

It was approved almost unanimously by the state Senate earlier this month. Murphy, a Democrat, expressed support for reforms Monday but did not say whether he would sign the bill as passed.

“Childhood trauma often carries into adulthood,” the bill’s state Assembly sponsors, Annette Quijano, D-Union, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, and Miley Jasey, D-Essex, said in a joint statement.

“Many survivors need the time to find the strength to confront their abusers and get the justice they need and deserve. We must recognize the incredible stress, turmoil and pressure victims feel when dealing with their abuse and adjust the law accordingly to allow enough time for them to begin to heal.”

“Coming to terms with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse can take decades,” said Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. “Those who have been traumatized deserve to share their stories, find healing, and seek justice.”

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