Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Abuse Cases
It isn’t easy coming forward and telling your story of sexual abuse. Facing the person or organization responsible is even more challenging. At Gianforcaro Law, we are here for you every step of the way.
Attorney Greg Gianforcaro has represented more than 650 victims of sexual abuse. With the support of Gianforcaro Law, we can help guide you through the process of coming forward and seeking justice.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
I was sexually abused as an adult, and now I understand there is a time limit in which to take legal action. What is it?
New Jersey passed a law in 2019 (S477) that gives survivors more time to file a claim for sexual abuse. If the abuse occurred when you were under the age of 18, you have until you turn 55, or seven years from the time you learned of the abuse, to bring a suit. If the sexual abuse happened when you were an adult, you have two years from the act of abuse, or seven years from the date of reasonably connecting your damages and its casual relationship to the abuse to bring a claim.
Please note that if you are attempting to pursue your claim within the above seven year period, you will have to prove at a court hearing that your claim was filed within that seven year time frame. This hearing is commonly referred to as a Lopez hearing. Lopez v. Swyer 62 N.J. 267 (1973).
I heard there was a law passed in 2019 which opened up a 2-year window for sexual abuse claimants to file their abuse claims. If I miss the window, do I still have rights?
Yes. If you were sexually abused as a child, you have until you turn age 55. Even if you are over the age of 55, you may have options. We will evaluate your case and determine what your next steps are.
I was abused in a public school by a public school teacher. Did the Victims’ Bill of Rights affect that?
Yes. In addition to passing S477, New Jersey also passed a second follow-up law that allows survivors to sue organizations, schools and entities for sexual abuse. The school district is considered responsible for protecting its students from sexual abuse in their schools.
What is the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill, and how does it affect me?
The New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill expands the opportunity for survivors of sexual abuse to file a civil claim against their abuser and the institution responsible regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. It allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a claim before they reach age 55, or seven years after they reasonably connect their damages to the sexual abuse that occurred. For adults who were sexually abused, they have two years from the act of abuse to file suit, or within seven years of when they reasonably connected their damages to the sexual abuse that occurred.
Why should I consider coming forward with my story?
We understand how difficult it is to come forward with your story of sexual abuse. No one wants to revisit those painful memories and reopen old wounds.
However, filing a claim for sexual abuse is one way to hold those responsible accountable and seek justice for the hurt they caused you and provide some closure. A sexual abuse claim may also protect others in the future from being sexually abused.
No amount of money can erase your pain, but compensation can help you move forward. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, and we may be able to win a sizeable award for you.
Will my identity be protected if I decide to take legal action?
In most cases, the answer is yes. Child sexual abuse cases are sensitive, and your privacy is important to us. We have worked with more than 650 survivors of sexual abuse and will do everything we can to protect your privacy and identity.
Can a church or school be held liable for sexual abuse?
Yes. Churches and other organizations can be held liable for clergy sexual abuse based on the church’s negligence. For example, if a church is aware of the abuse or, in some instances, is aware that the sexual abuse is a systemic problem occurring within the institution, yet fails to report it or take appropriate action, they can be held liable.
My abuser was never criminally prosecuted. Can I still file a claim?
Yes. Unfortunately, in most cases, sexual abusers are never criminally prosecuted at the time of the crime. Civil lawsuits do not require a criminal conviction to be valid or successful.