Many of us who belong to faith communities are taught at an early age to respect spiritual leaders – priests, pastors, rabbis, and imams, as well as youth group and Sunday school teachers. Each has a sacred responsibility for teaching and leading worshippers in their respective beliefs.
We now know some of these clergy and lay leaders have taken advantage of a sacred trust relationship, especially with young boys and girls. These acts of sexual abuse, whether one time or many, can cause victims to feel shame, embarrassment or guilt, lead to years of depression and anxiety, and even drive some to abandon their faith.
You Are Not Alone
Maybe you were sexually abused by a clergy member or faith lay leader as a child. For many months and years, or even today, you believed you were the only one to endure sexual abuse.
The truth is you are not alone, and you are not to blame. Many other children and teens were told to keep the same secrets. In contrast to messages of love and peace young victims heard from the pulpit, clergy used their powerful position to threaten and intimidate. Like you, victims were told it was no use to speak up, as they would not be believed because of their youth.
New Laws Offer Help for NJ and NY Victims
Fortunately, there are many child advocates and legislators who do believe young victims of clergy sexual abuse and have taken action to help them. In 2019, New York and New Jersey passed laws giving people who were sexually abused as children more time to file lawsuits. This was done because victims, whether because of fear, guilt, shame, psychological trauma or other reasons, sometimes delay taking legal action against their abusers.
- New Jersey’s Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights
- Permits victims to file civil cases against an individual or other responsible party, such as a church or a school until he or she is age 55 or 7 years after associating their mental health or physical issues with past sexual abuse.
- Gives victims until December 2021 to pursue legal action in cases where they originally missed the timeframe to file a suit.
- New York’s Child Victims Act:
- Permits victims to file civil cases against an individual or other responsible party, such as a church or a school until he or she is age 55
- Contains a time-sensitive special provision for filing civil cases: Until August 13, 2020, suits can be filed no matter the victim’s current age or how long ago the abuse occurred.
Clergy Abuse Attorneys in New Jersey and New York
Kreizer Law clergy abuse attorneys are knowledgeable about and experienced with provisions of these New York and New Jersey laws. As important, they are caring individuals who are supportive of sexual abuse victims when they seek information and throughout the legal process.
Call 1‑(800)-4-JUSTICE® –1-(800)-458-7842 or contact us online to discuss your case with a Kreizer Law attorney today.