New Jersey Sex Abuse Lawsuits and Settlements

Now more than ever, victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault can access the civil justice system in New Jersey to hold abusers and the institutions that enabled them accountable.

This page explains how sex abuse victims can bring civil lawsuits in New Jersey and get compensation. Our lawyers will discuss the newly amended statute of limitations for sex abuse civil cases in New Jersey. Finally, we will examine these cases’ potential settlement value and recent settlements and verdicts in New Jersey sex abuse lawsuits.

New Jersey Sex Abuse May 2024 Update

  • A woman who was sexually abused by her grandfather will settle her childhood sex abuse lawsuit for $7.5 million to settle her suit under New Jersey’s Child Sex Abuse Act.

    The allegations are beyond awful. The abuse started with groping and fondling the girl’s nipples and vagina through her clothing.  When she was just 8, he began to kiss her, stick his tongue in her mouth, touch her breasts and vagina, digitally penetrating her vagina and forcing her to touch his penis.  As you often see, he threatened her if she reported him. The family was reportedly financially dependent on the grandfather, which, sadly, made it apparently easier for them to ignore the evidence in front of them.

    The victim’s sex abuse attorney thinks that, unlike most cases like this, there is a chance to recover significant money from the perpetrator who has been busy trying to hide his assets.

  • A new sex abuse lawsuit, M.J. v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, et al., filed in the , Essex County, the plaintiff brings a complaint against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Queen of Peace High School, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill. The plaintiff alleges that during the period of 1984-1985, she was sexually abused by a teacher, referred to as the Perpetrator, employed by the defendants.

    The complaint outlines multiple counts including negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, willful and wanton acts, and omissions by the defendants in failing to properly supervise, report, and take action against the known risks posed by the perpetrator. The plaintiff further alleges that the defendants were aware of the perpetrator’s history of abuse and failed to protect her and other children. The complaint also includes claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and retention, civil conspiracy, and nuisance.

  • A Camden jury awarded $1.6 million in damages to a woman who alleged sexual abuse by a teacher at Hatch Middle School three decades ago. We discuss the verdict more in the example sex abuse settlements and verdicts below.
  • A new sexual abuse lawsuit was filed this week against the Archdiocese of Newark. The lawsuit alleges that an unnamed teacher at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, NJ sexually abused the plaintiff (and allegedly many other minors) between 1984 and 1987. The Complaint contains few details, but it asserts that the teacher’s inappropriate conduct was known to the school and church, but they did nothing.

New Jersey Sex Abuse April 2024 Updates

  • Last week, a jury awarded $750,000 to a survivor of child sex abuse who was abused at a state-run facility in Salem County for troubled teens in 1994 after a four-day trial last week.The plaintiff, who was 14 or 15 at the time,  was a part of a program for juveniles in need of supervision in Woodstown, due to running away from home to escape abuse by his adoptive father. The abuse at the facility was perpetrated by a 40-year-old counselor, involving multiple instances of sexual misconduct. The now 45-year-old man, having been abandoned as an infant and raised in the state’s foster care system, sought justice under New Jersey’s Child Victims Act. This act, as we talk about below,  allows survivors to file civil claims beyond the normal statute of limitations, emphasizing the importance of holding accountable those who enable such abuse.The case highlighted the egregious oversight by several employees who were aware of the abuse yet failed to intervene. The lawsuit involved the state, the county, and the state’s Human Services Division as defendants.

New Jersey Sex Abuse March 2024 Updates

  • This is a complaint filed by a plaintiff, K.M., against several defendants, including the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Queen of Peace High School, and Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill. The plaintiff alleges that the perpetrator, identified as Lief Schiroki, sexually abused them during the years 1984-1987 while the plaintiff was a minor. The complaint asserts that the defendants were aware of the risk of sexual abuse by individuals associated with them, including the perpetrator, yet failed to take appropriate action to prevent such abuse. The plaintiff suffered, as you would expect, severe emotional and psychological injuries as a result of the defendants’ negligence and seeks compensation for their actions.
  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden has received approval from a New Jersey bankruptcy judge for its $87.5 million plan to settle sexual abuse claims, overcoming objections from insurance carriers after three previous plan iterations were rejected. This successful attempt, acknowledged in an oral ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerrold N. Poslusny Jr., came after adjustments were made to protect the insurers’ rights. The remaining objections were considered overruled, waived, or misinterpreted from previous decisions.Originally filed in October 2020 amid numerous sexual abuse claims, the diocese’s Chapter 11 plan involves creating a settlement trust funded by contributions from the diocese and various non-debtor entities, with the diocese’s insurance policies also being assigned to the trust for claimant recovery efforts. Despite initial insurance carrier objections and failed earlier settlements, including a $30 million deal, the diocese’s third revised plan submitted in February addressed these concerns adequately.
  • The Catholic Diocese of Trenton has requested that a New Jersey federal court dismiss a lawsuit by an insurer aiming to deny coverage for over 200 sexual abuse allegations against clergy. The diocese labels the insurer’s coverage dispute as “premature, vague, and ambiguous.” They argue that the question of Century Indemnity Co.’s responsibility to provide indemnity is not yet appropriate for judgment, given that the related abuse suits are still undergoing discovery without any awarded damages.The diocese emphasizes the risk of conflicting decisions between this insurance case and the ongoing personal injury lawsuits, which could potentially compromise the diocese’s efforts to fulfill its obligations towards survivors of child sexual abuse. This contention arises amidst 550 claims and more than 200 lawsuits triggered by New Jersey’s Child Victims Act of 2019, detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by diocesan clergy and staff from the 1940s through the 2000s.This is insurance companies doing what insurance companies do. Despite Century’s initial agreement to defend the diocese under specific conditions, the insurer later contested its duty to indemnify.
  • A New Jersey appeals court decided that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) cannot be sued in the state’s courts for alleged sexual abuse by a former employee of its Hudson County branch. Unfortunately, the court concluded that the national BGCA organization did not have direct control over the local affiliate’s employee matters, such as hiring, training, or supervision. Therefore, it was determined that BGCA did not engage with New Jersey in a way that would subject it to local jurisdiction. This decision overturned a previous ruling by a Hudson County Superior Court judge, who had stated that the BGCA could be sued in New Jersey.

New Jersey Sex Abuse February 2024 Update

Let’s look at the latest news and updates in sexual abuse lawsuits in New Jersey:

  • The Winslow Township school district has agreed to a settlement of $6 million with two ex-students who claimed in their lawsuit to have been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a former high school teacher over several years.  These two male students lodged individual lawsuits, filed weeks apart, accusing Nicholas Zaccaria, a teacher of social studies and history at what was then Edgewood High School—now Winslow Township High School—of assaulting them between 1998 and 2003. Zaccaria, who also served as a theater adviser, was implicated by the students who participated in the stage crew club during their teenage years. This settlement is considered the highest of its kind by a public school district in New Jersey.
  • A new clergy abuse lawsuit was filed in Essex County naming the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, the Marist Brothers of the Schools, Inc., the Marist Brothers, the Province of Esopus, and Roselle Catholic High School.  The plaintiff alleges that in 1983, at approximately fourteen years of age, she enrolled at Roselle Catholic High School, attending until around 1987, when she was about eighteen. Throughout the plaintiff’s time at the school, Brother Donald Richard, F.M.S., known as Brother Richard, was associated with Roselle Catholic High School as some sort of guidance counselor where he had various duties. Brother Richard sexually abused her abused, by doing awful things like hugging Plaintiff’s body close to his body so that Plaintiff could feel his erect penis and touching her genitals over her underwear. After all this time, she understandably wants compensation for what was done to her.
  • Century Indemnity filed a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court seeking a declaration that the insurer is not obligated to defend or indemnify the Diocese of Trenton and its associated schools and parishes against numerous sex abuse claims from minors triggered by the New Jersey Child Victims Act (CVA). The CVA, effective from December 2019, allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits until their 55th birthday and introduces a revival window for previously time-barred claims. The Diocese of Trenton, as we have been talking about here, faces around 550 claims of sexual abuse, with over 200 lawsuits filed under the CVA alleging bodily injury from such abuse. Century, which provided insurance policies to the diocese between 1957 and 1972, contends that its policies cover accidents and occurrences, not intentional conduct or acts concealed by the diocese. The insurer alleges incomplete cooperation from the diocese in providing the necessary documentation to evaluate the claims. The lawsuit aims to clarify Century’s duty to indemnify in instances not arising from accidents or occurrences and addresses the broader issue of institutional knowledge and concealment of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, as suggested by the underlying complaints.
  • A 40-year-old man, Nieem Johnson, with a last known address in Philadelphia, faces a 16-count indictment for allegedly leading a human trafficking operation across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This legal action follows the escape of a teenage girl from a Bordentown hotel, where she claims to have been held captive and subjected to sex trafficking. The charges, announced by U.S. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), include two counts of first-degree human trafficking, first-degree conspiracy, two counts of second-degree facilitating human trafficking, first-degree advertising commercial sex abuse of a minor, first-degree promoting organized street crime, third-degree criminal restraint, first-degree promoting prostitution of a minor, second-degree engaging in prostitution with a minor, three counts of second-degree sexual assault, third-degree criminal coercion, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and third-degree aggravated assault.

New Jersey Sex Abuse January 2024 Update

  • A New Jersey appellate panel has ruled that the state’s courts are not the appropriate venue for Pennsylvania plaintiffs to bring sexual abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This decision, which upholds earlier rulings by two trial court judges, found that New Jersey lacked jurisdiction in cases where plaintiffs alleged sexual abuse by Pennsylvania priests in the 1970s and 1980s. The court determined that the archdiocese did not engage in activities within New Jersey related to the alleged priest abuse. We flush this case out further below.
  • A New Jersey federal judge has ruled that three adult sons of a wealthy Johnson and Johnson heiress cannot dismiss claims alleging they sexually abused their teenage stepsister from age 13 to 17 during the 1970s.  The allegations here are just depressing. The lawsuit, filed by the woman identified as K.S.D., alleges she was groomed and sexually abused by her adult stepbrothers shortly after her father married their mother in 1972. K.S.D. claims she did not recognize their actions as sexual assault until years later, and the abuse impacted her ability to form healthy relationships and financial stability. The lawsuit, initially filed in November 2022, has been amended twice and corrected for a jurisdictional defect. The latest filing narrows the allegations to three of her four stepbrothers, removing the youngest as a defendant.  One defendant argued for dismissal due to insufficient facts, but Judge Robert Kirsch deemed it too early for such a ruling.  The lawsuit details that the siblings lived in a minimally supervised home in New Jersey from 1972 to 1976. The sex abuse lawsuit alleges various instances of sexual abuse, including grooming, oral sex, and penetration. It also claims that the plaintiff was impregnated and forced to have an abortion at 15, causing emotional and physical trauma.  Importantly, the court rejected arguments that the claims were outside the New Jersey sexual assault statute of limitations, citing the state’s Child Sexual Abuse Act and a two-year revival window for previously time-barred claims.
  • Alice Bianco, a former server at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, also known as Lamington Farm Club, has filed a lawsuit alleging fraudulent inducement of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) following her accusations of sexual harassment by a club manager. Bianco claims that attorney (and busiest person in America) Alina Habba manipulated her into signing an NDA that was favorable to Trump while acting as a neutral party. The golf club argues that the suit should be dismissed, stating that Habba was not acting as an employee or agent of the club at the time and Bianco’s claims are directed against a third-party attorney.  Bianco’s lawsuit details her experience of being sexually harassed by the club’s food and beverage manager and alleges that she was coerced into having sex to retain her job. She claims that Habba, while representing herself as a neutral party, was secretly working for Trump’s interests, leading her to drop her employment lawyer and sign a settlement and NDA.

New Jersey Sex Abuse November 2023 Update

A coalition of insurance companies has appealed to a New Jersey bankruptcy judge to reject the most recent Chapter 11 restructuring proposal by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden and its official committee of tort claimant creditors.

These insurers want to pay as little as possible. So they contend that the proposed plan fails to rectify the errors that led to the rejection of the diocese’s initial plan in August and further compounds them.

The motion opposing the plan says the revised plan neglects the court’s directive for a more impartial approach considering insurers’ interests. They assert that the plan demonstrates prejudice and overlooks the necessity for a mechanism to assess and dismiss deficient claims.

They also gripe in their motion about appointing a new trust administrator, Matthew Dundon.  They think he is too in bed with plaintiffs’ lawyers generally and, specifically, the tort committee. Their fear here is that his lack of impartiality creates an incentive to maximize the value of a claim when liquidating a contingent claim to a fixed amount, which is adverse to the interests of the insurance companies who want to hang on to every dear penny.  However, a Camden Diocese settlement is unlikely unless these insurance companies realize they need to pay more to get this deal done.

New Jersey Sex Abuse September 2023 Update

A federal judge rejected the $87.5 million settlement proposed by the Camden Diocese for sexual abuse survivors, citing concerns that it could burden insurance companies with illegitimate claims and excessive attorney fees.

So he invalidated the Chapter 11 plan proposed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden due to its perceived bias against the diocese’s insurance carriers.  It is hard to envision the insurance companies are the real victims here.

The plan aimed to create a settlement trust funded by $87.5 million to compensate sexual abuse survivors. While the judge overruled some objections related to the plan, he found that it lacked sufficient protection for the insurers.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2020 due to sexual abuse claims. The diocese is reviewing the decision and will submit a revised plan. One change you can expect the diocese to make is a rewrite of a “rapid payment” choice where claimants could potentially receive a minimum of $2,500 Camden Dioces settlement by completing a nine-page questionnaire. The judge had a real problem with this part of the settlement.  I agree that the system must direct the settlement money to real victims, not people filling out questionnaires.

How Does New Jersey Define Sex Abuse?

New Jersey criminal law statutes define sexual abuse and sexual assault. Under New Jersey law, sexual abuse is defined as intentional sexual contact (either directly or through clothing) of the intimate parts for degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually gratifying the abuser. This definition covers everything from forcible rape to indecent exposure.

The critical element that defines all types and categories of sexual abuse or assault is the lack of consent. Without consent, any form of sexual contact is actionable as sexual abuse or assault. Children (under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent to sexual contact. Therefore, any intentional sexual contact by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Holding Third Parties Liable for Sexual Abuse in New Jersey

Anyone sexually abused or assaulted has the right to file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation. Victims can file civil lawsuits for sexual abuse even if they did not press criminal charges and even if they never told anyone about the abuse.

So who can sex abuse victims sue in a civil lawsuit? Victims of abuse can always file suit against the individual who abused or assaulted them. The problem with doing that, however, is that even if you win the lawsuit, you probably won’t be able to get any money out of the abuser. In many cases, the abuser might already be dead or in jail.

New Jersey sex abuse lawsuits

The real goal of a sexual abuse civil lawsuit is to go after a third party who can be held liable for the abuse. Third parties can be held liable in a civil sex abuse lawsuit if you can show that they were negligent and that this negligence allowed the abuse to happen.

For example, if a teacher abused you at your school, the school could potentially be liable for negligently failing to stop the abuse or investigate prior complaints against the teacher.

Common examples of third parties who can be liable in sexual abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, and organizations such as the Boy Scouts, etc.

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

A statute of limitations is a legal deadline that limits how long prospective plaintiffs can wait before filing a civil lawsuit. If a plaintiff does not file suit before the statute of limitations expires, their claims will be barred.

The established principle dictates that a cause of action becomes valid when the entitlement to initiate and pursue a lawsuit first emerges. Specifically, a cause of action related to abuse is recognized at the point when the injury is reasonably discovered, along with its direct link to the act of sexual abuse, as outlined in N.J.S.A. § 2A:61B-1.

The statute of limitations is often a significant issue in sex abuse lawsuits because many victims do not feel comfortable bringing a lawsuit until years after the fact.

New 2019 Law

In 2019, New Jersey joined a growing number of states that amended their statute of limitations to expand the ability of childhood sex abuse victims to access the civil justice system.

Before 2019, sexual abuse victims had a very limited time frame of just two years to file a civil lawsuit. Under the new Child Victims Act (N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2), victims of childhood sexual abuse have until their 55th birthday to bring a civil lawsuit for the abuse.

For cases in which the sexual abuse or assault occurred when the victim was an adult (over age 18), the New Jersey statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit is now seven years from the last act of sexual abuse.

There is no difference in the statute of limitations based on the the defendant.  So, for example, the statute of limitations for a priest sexual abuse case is the same as it is for any sex abuse claim.

Catholic Church Sex Abuse Settlements in New Jersey

In recent years, the Catholic Church has been the target of sex abuse litigation across the country, and the Catholic Church in New Jersey has not escaped this. In April 2022, the New Jersey  Catholic diocese agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle a group of around 300 claims involving sexual abuse by clergy. The settlement arrangement came after the diocese was forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the rising tide of sex abuse civil liabilities.

The settlement covered acts of abuse by Catholic clergy that spanned several decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Part of the settlement money will be used to establish a settlement trust to cover future claims from victims of sexual abuse. The individual claimants will reportedly receive around $290,000 each from the settlement.

Settlement Value of New Jersey Church Abuse Lawsuits

Successful plaintiffs in a New Jersey clergy abuse lawsuit are entitled to receive all the same types of damages as plaintiffs in normal tort cases. These include medical expenses, lost wages or earnings potential, and mental pain and suffering. New Jersey also allows punitive damages to be awarded in sexual abuse cases.

Sex abuse claims have a very high average settlement amounts in sexual abuse cases because juries are humans like us who lose their minds when they hear stories of children being sexual abused. This often leads to very big verdicts with massive pain and suffering awards which factors into the settlement price tag.

Also, many third party defendants in sex abuse cases (schools, churches, etc.) a very eager to settle these cases to avoid negative publicity and protect their public image. This additional incentive often prompts third party defendants to make bigger settlement offers to get the case resolved quickly.

Sexual Abuse Verdicts and Settlements in New Jersey

Below are examples of New Jersey sexual abuse settlement amounts and jury payouts:

  • $1,600,000 Verdict (Camden 2024): The Camden City School District was found liable for $1.6 million in damages to a woman who alleged sexual abuse by a teacher 30 years ago. The plaintiff claimed the abuse occurred while she was a student at Hatch Middle School and continued for several years. The jury assigned 60% of the responsibility to the school district and 40% to the teacher, now a local minister. The district’s financial liability could increase pending a decision on punitive damages.
  • $25,000,000 Verdict (Middlesex County 2024): The plaintiff, now 39, was sexually assaulted by four men in the 1990s while in the state’s custody. The lawsuit highlighted the department’s failure to provide necessary psychotherapy after the plaintiff’s first assault at age 6, which could have offered a safe space for recovery and helped prevent further abuse. The state argued that the therapy’s effectiveness was uncertain and not directly linked to the subsequent abuse. However, the plaintiff’s legal team contended that the lack of therapy contributed to ongoing abuse, as it prevented the plaintiff from understanding and asserting boundaries. The plaintiff was initially removed from their parents due to drug abuse and suffered assaults in several foster situations. Despite a challenging childhood, the plaintiff significantly turned her life around, eventually working as a school counselor. This case was brought against the state’s Department of Children and Families, the 2019 law we have been talking about that extended the time survivors of sexual abuse have to sue their abusers. The jury found the state grossly negligent, attributing 99% of the fault to it and 1% to the assailants, without faulting any foster guardians. The plaintiff agreed to a $12 million award from a pre-trial high-low agreement that set a financial range for the outcome and waived all appeals.
  • $331,000 Verdict (Middlesex County 2023): Plaintiff alleged that the defendants (City of Perth Amboy and Perth Amboy Fire Department) allowed one of their employees to use his positions with them as their firefighter, community figure head, mentor, and/or counselor to allegedly sexually abuse the plaintiff many times, from approximately 1986 through 1990. The plaintiff allegedly was sexually abused by the employee, beginning when the plaintiff was approximately eight years old. The plaintiff contended the defendants were negligent for failing to properly supervise their employee when they knew or should have known the employee posed a threat.
  • $125,000 Settlement (Ocean County 2022): The plaintiff alleged that while she was a 14-year-old student at Toms River Regional School District she was subjected to repeated sexual assault and harassment by her teacher, Michael Romano. She hired a sexual assault attorney and filed suit against the school district for negligently failing to protect her from the abuse, although the school district claimed it had no knowledge of the teacher’s actions and the plaintiff admittedly never reported him.
  • $30,000 Settlement (Mercer County 2019): The plaintiff, a mentally disabled adult female with the cognitive ability of a 7-year old, was sexually abused by a mentally disabled adult male while both of them were residents at the defendant’s facility for mentally challenged people. The lawsuit alleged that the defendant failed to supervise the residents and prevent the abuse.
  • $550,000 Settlement (Union County 2017): An 11-year-old girl alleged that she was sexually abused between August and November 2014 by a co-owner and instructor at a martial arts school, defendant Milburn Karate for Kids L.L.C.  Her family hire a sex abuse lawyer who filed a lawsuit that alleged that the instructor sexually assaulted her during and after martial arts classes and on school-sponsored trips, sent her explicit photos and videos, and asked her to provide graphic pictures of herself.
  • $300,000 Settlement (Federal Ct. 2017): Lawsuit alleged that 8-year-old boy with severe autism was placed in 2 different foster homes where he was subjected to numerous incidents of sexual molestation and exhibited signs of physical abuse, including bite marks, burns, cuts and bruises. The lawsuit was filed against the NJ Department of Children and Families for allegedly failing to properly supervise and protect the boy.
  • $4,500,000 Settlement (Passaic County 2010): The defendant, New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), placed a 3-year-old boy in a foster home where he remained for 5 years. During that time the boy the victim of continuous sexual abuse by a nanny. The lawsuit alleged that a DYFS caseworker regularly visited the household and saw signs of alcohol abuse and assaultive behavior but DYFS did not follow up, and failed to investigate.
  • $600,000 Settlement (Morris County 2009): The defendant, New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), placed a 7-year-old girl in foster care. The father at the foster home sexually abused her for the entire 2 year period that she was there. The lawsuit accused DYFS of negligence in failing to properly screen the foster parents and uncover the abuse.
  • $330,000 Settlement (Federal Ct. 2006): The plaintiff was student at Bayonne High School. He claimed that a guidance counselor at the school, Diane West, repeatedly sexually assaulted him between the summer of 2000 and December 2001. West was criminally charged with aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to probation for an unspecified period of time. The lawsuit alleged that the counselor had long history of sexual contact with her male students (including, incredibly, marrying one of them) and nothing was done about it.

Eight Priests Accused of Sex Abuse

  1. Francis Dennehy, born in 1925, ordained in 1950. He passed away on August 10, 1995, and had allegations of misconduct from multiple victims. His service included chaplaincies at Wayne General Hospital and Chilton Hospital.
  2. James Hanley, born in 1936, ordained in 1962. He was removed from the ministry in 1986 due to allegations from multiple victims and served at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  3. John Heekin, born in 1937, ordained in 1963. He had multiple alleged victims and was removed from the ministry in 2011, passing away in July 2018. He served at Holy Cross.
  4. Charles Bradley, born in 1942, ordained in 1968. He was removed from ministry prematurely due to sexual abuse allegations involving one victim. His service record includes Neumann House, Our Lady of Consolation, and a faculty position at DePaul Catholic High School. Lawsuits against Bradley are ongoing and also include the Diocese of Paterson and the Paterson Diocesan Pastoral Center.
  5. Absalom Coutinho, born in 1944, ordained in 1972. He was removed from the ministry in 2002 amid allegations from multiple victims. His service included Immaculate Heart of Mary and Church of the Annunciation.
  6. John Pisarcik, also born in 1944, ordained in 1970. He faced allegations from multiple victims, leading to his removal in 1991. He was the principal of Neumann Prep.
  7. William Mockus, born in 1945, ordained in 1974. He faced allegations from one victim and was removed from the ministry in 1995, passing away in 2014. He served at Our Lady of the Valley.
  8. James Scott, the youngest, born in 1948 and ordained in 1974. He was removed from the ministry in 1995 following allegations from one victim. He was a faculty member at DePaul Catholic High School.

Sex Abuse Appellate Law in New Jersey

For better and for worse, sex abuse lawsuit in New Jersey are won and lost in the weeds of New Jersey law governing these claims.  The New Jersey appellate court have been active in addressing issue related to sex abuse and sexual assault lawsuits.  We have summarized some of these opinions below. This is mostly for other sex abuse lawyers but you might also have an interest in the particular facts and rulings in these suits.

J.R. v. N.J. State Parole Board (2023)

The case involves claims against a parole officer by the family of a nine-year-old victim, V.R., who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a parolee. His family argued that the officer’s failure to properly supervise parolee constituted willful misconduct, thus making him liable for the the horror that ensured.

The trial court sided with the parole officer, based on the argument that he was immune from liability under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act since the family. lacked evidence to prove willful misconduct. The appellate court vacated this order because there may be a factual dispute the supervision could constitute willful misconduct. This decision opens, you would hope, the path for a more detailed examination of the actions and responsibilities of parole officers under the Tort Claims Act, specifically in situations where their conduct could potentially lead to harm caused by parolees.

You have to love the sex abuse lawyers who are fighting for this family. But even with this win, they will have an uphill climb marshaling the acts to show willful misconduct. New Jersey law is just unfair when it comes lawsuit against government employees.

C.V. v. Waterford Township Board of Education (2023)

This case centered on allegations of sexual assault by Alfred Dean, a 76-year-old school bus aide, against C.V., a pre-kindergarten student, over a period of five months. Just awful.

The lawsuit was brought by C.V. and her parents against the Waterford Township Board of Education and Waterford Township School District, claiming discrimination on the basis of sex in a place of public accommodation, in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(f). The plaintiffs alleged that Dean, who admitted to sexually abusing at least five children, including his own stepson, over decades, targeted only female students for assault, despite the presence of both male and female children on the bus.

The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that there was no evidence to suggest that the harassment occurred because of C.V.’s sex. The  New Jersey Supreme Court reversed this judgment, holding that sexual harassment inherently occurs because of the victim’s sex, thereby bringing such actions within the scope of the LAD. The Court affirmed the denial of the plaintiffs’ motions to amend their complaint and to obtain certain records, concluding that Dean’s intent was irrelevant to the LAD claim. This case reminds us that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the statute.

D.T. v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia (2023)

This case is the New Jersey courts telling us they are interested in justice in sex abuse lawsuits but they only want cases that belong in New Jersey.  So the court dismissed claims against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia brought by a victim who alleged negligence in the provision of pastoral services related to abuse by a priest in New Jersey.

The court found that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was not subject to jurisdiction in New Jersey under Rule 4:4-4. The Archdiocese did not engage in activities within New Jersey to a degree that would establish “minimum contacts” necessary for personal jurisdiction. This means the Archdiocese’s interactions or activities within New Jersey were not sufficient to warrant the state’s legal authority over it in this case.

The court also added that there was no evidence to suggest the Archdiocese had control over, supervised, or was even aware of the priest’s alleged assault of the plaintiff in New Jersey.

Furthermore, it was determined that the Archdiocese had no prior knowledge of any assaults by the priest, indicating that there was no basis to believe the Archdiocese should have taken action to restrict or remove him from his priestly duties at that time.

C.P. v. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (2023)

In this unpublished opinion, the plaintiff, identified as C.P., filed a lawsuit against the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fairlawn Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., and East Hackensack Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The lawsuit was based on allegations of sexual abuse by C.P.’s paternal grandfather, Charles, who was allowed to serve as an elder in the congregations during the time of the abuse when C.P. was a child. The abuse occurred from the mid-1970s to 1988, beginning when C.P. was only three years old. Charles was later criminally prosecuted and put in jail where he belonged.

Thirty years ago, C.P. filed a lawsuit against Charles, her grandmother, and her parents, but did not include the defendants in this lawsuit. The jury awarded C.P. damages against Charles, but the claims against her grandmother were dismissed. Subsequent changes to the Charitable Immunity Act (CIA) and the enactment of the Child Victims Act (CVA) in 2019 expanded liability and allowed C.P. to file a new complaint against the defendants in 2021, alleging negligence and other causes of action related to the abuse.

So the question the court had to tackle was whether the old lawsuit barred the new one.  Thankfully, the appellate court found that the claims against the defendants were distinct from those in the 1994 action and were not feasible at the time due to the legal framework then in place.

The case citation is:

Desai v. W. Windsor-Plainsboro Reg’l Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. (2022)

The plaintiff, born in 1989, brought forward allegations of being sexually assaulted by a substitute teacher in 2005 while attending a regional high school in West Windsor-Plainsboro.

The lawsuit was filed in the Law Division in 2021, leveraging the extended statute of limitations for child sexual assault claims established by New Jersey legislative amendments in 2019.  These legislative changes not only extended the timeframe for bringing forth such claims but also removed the requirement for filing a Tort Claims Act (TCA) notice for lawsuits against public entities.

The school board contending that the 2019 amendments did not apply retroactively to incidents that occurred prior to the amendments’ effective date of December 1, 2019. The defendant argued that the appellant was required to file a TCA notice, which was not done, leading the trial court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

However, the Appellate Division overturned the trial court’s decision, referencing its ruling in a similar case which interpreted the 2019 amendments as reviving claims that would have been otherwise time-barred. According to this precedent, the legislative intent behind the amendments was to allow claims against public entities without the necessity of a TCA notice.

Contact Us About New Jersey Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Our sex abuse attorneys handle cases all across the country, including New Jersey, through parent firms. If you were the victim of sexual abuse and want to file a sex abuse lawsuit in New Jersey, contact us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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