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New Jersey Sex
Abuse Lawyers

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Sexual abuse is a horrific crime that can lead to emotional pain and suffering, often for many years after any physical injuries have healed. Sadly, sexual abuse is very common in the State of New Jersey and throughout the United States.

If someone sexually abused you, you have the legal right to bring a lawsuit against that person to seek just compensation for your injuries. An experienced New Jersey  can help victims fight for justice by researching their case to see if they have a legal claim, collecting important evidence, and filing all the necessary documents with a court.
WHAT ARE SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL ABUSE IN NEW JERSEY?

Sexual assault in New Jersey generally refers to a sudden, violent sexual act perpetrated on a victim. Sexual assault examples include rape, grabbing someone’s breasts or genital areas without their consent, or flasing one’s genitals in public at another person.

Sexual abuse often refers to a pattern of sexual misconduct against another person, often a child. Sexual abuse does not require physical contact. For example, sexual abuse may include requiring a child to watch pornography.

How common are sexual assault and sexual abuse in New Jersey?

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are unfortunately very common in New Jersey and throughout the country. It is estimated that there are nearly two million survivors of sexual abuse in New Jersey alone, although these numbers are probably low since sexual violence often goes unreported. In addition, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nationwide, one in every five women will become the victim of either attempted or completed rape during their lifetimes, and almost a quarter of all men will experience some type of sexual violence.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WAS SEXUALLY VICTIMIZED IN NEW JERSEY?

If you have been a victim of any form of sexual violence in New Jersey, you should take immediate steps to protect yourself and your legal rights.

First, contact the police department or call 911 and find a safe place to go to. Don’t shower, bathe, change your clothes, eat, drink, brush your teeth, or do anything that may destroy valuable evidence sunch as DNA, semen, or fingerprints.

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Get medical treatment immediately. A Doctor can treat your injuries and test you for sexually transmitted diseases.

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After you are treated for your injuries, contact a local sexual violence agency for support and to learn about your rights and options.

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You should also contact experienced New Jersey sexual assualt lawyers to receive legal advice on your legal rights and determine whether you need legal representation.

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The legal team at Herman Law can provide you with the information you need to determine what your legal options are.

Resources for Sexual Assault and Rape Victims

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, there are various resources in New Jersey that you can contact for help. First, when you report a sexual assault to the police in New Jersey, this initiates action by a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). A SART is made up of a nurse examiner, a Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate (CSVA), and a law enforcement officer. The SART works to provide compassionate medical care and emotional support while collecting important evidence for your sexual assault case. To activate SART, the victim must be 13 or older, and the sexual assault must have happened within the past five days. If more than five days have passed, the victim can still speak with a CSVA. CSVAs have specialized training in sex crimes and sexual assault cases, and they can guide you through medical, legal, and court procedures, explaining your options and rights along the way. You don’t have to participate in the SART program, but it’s a valuable tool. Each county in New Jersey has its own agency that handles sexual violence cases:

Institutional Sexual Abuse
Cover-ups in New Jersey

Institutions throughout New Jersey, specifically religious organizations, have come under fire in recent years for their alleged cover-ups of systemic sex crimes.
For many years, the Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey and other states participated in an extensive pattern of covering up child sexual abuse by priests and other clergy members. As part of the pattern, rather than firing priests or contacting law enforcement, the church would simply move the sex offender predators from one diocese to another, where the priest would find new individuals to sexually abuse. This horrific cover-up went on for decades and was finally uncovered in the early 2000s. 

In 2018, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office created a criminal task force to investigate sexual abuse by clergy in New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses. The task force maintains a telephone hotline for victims to report clergy abuse.
The Boy Scouts of New Jersey also came under fire when it was discovered that the organization engaged in a massive cover-up of pedophiliac boy scout troop leaders. New Jersey may end up having more sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Boy Scouts than in any other state. This is because, for many years, the Boy Scouts of America headquarters was in New Jersey, and it’s believed that the policies that allowed troop leaders to sexually abuse young boys were implemented at the New Jersey location. It’s also claimed that, for many years, the New Jersey headquarters maintained a “perversion file” with abuse complaints dating back to the 1940s.  

In other news related to sex crimes in New Jersey, most recently, a former student has accused three Catholic monks at a private New Jersey school of sodomizing him on numerous occasions. According to the student, when he was in seventh grade, an assistant headmaster at the prestigious Delbarton School raped him during an overnight retreat. The student also claims he was sexually assaulted in the school’s men’s bathroom and in the Headmaster of Discipline’s office.
In recognizing that sex crimes are serious public health menaces, New Jersey has recently taken serious measures to crack down on sexual abuse by licensed professionals, which includes doctors, massage therapists, and counselors. In April 2021, New Jersey’s attorney general announced a new program requiring licensed professionals in New Jersey to adopt policies and improve processes for preventing sexual misconduct. New Jersey law also requires anyone who suspects child abuse to report it to New Jersey’s Child Protection and Permanency agency.

Can you bring a sex abuse lawsuit in New Jersey even if the abuse happened a long time ago?

Yes. Even if the sexual abuse happened many years ago, you can still bring a claim. New Jersey recently passed laws extending the allowable time for bringing a claim. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced sex abuse attorney to learn about your deadline for filing a claim. If you miss it, you may be barred forever from bringing a claim.

Who can I hold liable for my sexual abuse in New Jersey?

In a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, you can potentially receive financial compensation from several people and entities. First, you can sue the person who abused you. If that person was employed by a school, church, or other entity, you might also sue the entity that allowed the abuse. You may also be able to sue other people who knew about the abuse but who failed to do anything about it.
Many states now have laws that require certain people and entities to report sexual abuse when they know about it, including the medical profession, therapists, law enforcement officials, and others. If someone had a duty to report your abuse and did not, then you may also be able to sue that person.

What is the New Jersey Child Victims Act?

Most survivors of sexual abuse were abused when they were children. Often, it takes many years for a person to come to terms with and understand that they were abused. Sometimes, a person won’t process the full extent of the horrific abuse until they’re in their 50s or 60s. Unfortunately, previous laws would have barred those people from coming forward with their claims because the deadline to bring a lawsuit would have passed.

In recognizing that victims of sex crimes often do not come forward until years after the abuse, in 2018, the New Jersey legislature passed the New Jersey Child Victims Act. The Act states that people who were previously time-barred by the statute of limitations from bringing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse now have a two-year window to bring their claims. The law also states that adults who were abused as children have until they’re 55 to bring a civil lawsuit or seven years after the abuse is discovered. About 24 states have passed similar laws, including New York and California.

The deadline to file a claim, November 30, 2021, is approaching fast. Contact Herman Law as soon as possible to learn about whether you can file a claim.

What is the difference between a criminal and civil sex abuse lawsuit?

In a criminal action against a sexual abuser, you first report the abuse to law enforcement officials. The prosecuting attorney likely will bring criminal charges against your abuser. 

New Jersey has numerous criminal statutes that address sexual abuse. A criminal case against the perpetrator is between the government and the perpetrator, and if the government proves its charges, then the perpetrator will be punished, likely with a lengthy prison sentence.

In a civil lawsuit, on the other hand, you are the person suing your abuser, and you can sue for money damages to make the abuser or other responsible parties pay you for your injuries. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help you gather all the evidence you need to prove your injuries.

What damages can I recover in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit in New Jersey?

In a sexual abuse civil lawsuit, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include costs incurred or loss of money because of the abuse, including medical bills, counseling and therapy, lost wages for missed work, and medications for anxiety, depression, or other mental problems you’ve experienced as a result of the abuse.

New Jersey law recognizes that sexual abuse results in terrible pain and suffering that is not always easy to calculate in a set dollar amount. These damages are known as non-economic damages. The law allows compensation for many forms of pain and suffering, including emotional trauma, diminished childhood, and diminished enjoyment of life. A court will look at the specific circumstances of the abuse you suffered and award you money damages according to your level of emotional distress caused by the abuse. If the abuse was particularly heinous, you might also have the right to receive punitive damages. There is no cap on non-economic damages in personal injury claims in New Jersey.

What must be proved in a New Jersey sex abuse lawsuit?

To prove a sexual abuse lawsuit, you must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that another person sexually abused you. Because this is a lower standard than what the government must prove in a criminal case, it’s sometimes better to pursue justice through a civil lawsuit in sexual abuse cases. Sexual abuse means the sexual contact or conduct was unwanted or non-consensual. In every state, a child is deemed to lack the ability to consent to sexual abuse by an adult, so a child can never consent to sexual abuse.

Many sexual abuse cases are not reported until years after the abuse, so often, there is no physical evidence of the abuse, and the case depends primarily on the victim’s testimony. If there is still physical evidence, this could include medical records that reveal injuries to the genital areas, semen, and sexually transmitted diseases. To show that you were damaged by sexual abuse, you can provide medical bills, costs incurred for counseling and therapy, and lost wages due to missed work. The experienced lawyers at Herman Law have our own internal investigative team that can help you gather all of the evidence you need to build your case. 

Why work with Herman Law?

Jeff Herman of Herman Law is well-known throughout the country as the leading attorney for survivors of sexual abuse. With more than 30 years of experience litigating sexual abuse cases for his clients, Jeff will approach your case with compassion, and he will fight for your legal right to just compensation for the emotional pain you suffered as a result of sexual abuse. 

Contact Herman Law today for a free case evaluation.