January 06, 2006

Charities lose sex-lawsuit shield

The Star-Ledger

Friday, January 06, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff
Acting Gov. Richard Codey yesterday signed into law a measure that will allow lawsuits against churches, private schools and other nonprofit institutions for past negligent hirings of employees who sexually abused children.

In a flurry of bill-signings, Codey also gave his approval to a measure that permits local governments to ban political donations by contractors.

Nonprofit organizations such as churches and private schools have long had ironclad immunity against such lawsuits. The Charitable Immunity Act allows the victims of sexual abuse to sue nonprofit institutions for negligence in the hiring or continued employment of a perpetrator. New Jersey is the 48th state to pass such a law.

"This provides real justice for those who were sexually assaulted and abused," said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who pushed to enact the law for six years. "This ensures that institutions, whether for profit or not, are held accountable for their actions."

Prompted largely by the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church, the bill (S540) applies across the board to private schools, Scout troops, Little Leagues and others.

Posted by kshaw at January 6, 2006 08:16 AM