NJ statute of limitations bill closer to becoming law

3/7/19 | Amanda Hoskins | WHP CBS 21 News

A New Jersey statute of limitations reform bill is one step closer to becoming law.

It would allow most child sexual abuse survivors a change to file civil suits, including a family from central PA.

The bill is similar to what lawmakers failed to pass in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted to bring the bill to the floor.

“The victims that are already out there will have a chance to get that little bit of empowerment,” said Jessica Howard, a USA gymnastics hall of famer, and abuse victim.

Howard was one of more than 50 people who testified before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. She’s one of the many who say they were abused by Dr. Larry Nassar.

“I was always abused and shamed as a gymnast,” explained Howard.

Some of the others to testify are from central Pennsylvania. The Fortney sisters took a front row seat during the four-hour hearing. They say their predator priest in Dauphin county transferred here from the garden state.

The bill itself eases the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases and gives past survivors a two-year retroactive window.

“Every single day we tell them that unless they can disclose their assault or abuse to those around them and face their rapist or abuser within two years, their trauma doesn’t matter,” said Joe Vitale, the bill’s sponsor.

Similar bills have been passed in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota and most recently New York.

While the Fortney sisters have often left the Pennsylvania capitol disapointed, their day in New Jersey ended in applause.

“Some said it’s a hard decision, but others said it was an easy decision,” said Carolyn Fortney. “Pennsylvania, you’re next.”

The bill will now be brought to the senate floor, then it must also go through the assembly.

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