State Senator Joe Vitale: “Job Well Done”

Senator Vitale

Here in this place, new light is streaming

Now in the darkness vanished away…

Our fears and our dreaming

Brought here to you in the light of this day.

(Catholic Hymn)-“Gather Us In”

After nearly two decades and because of a relentless, heroic effort by State Senator Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), his legislation, passed in March by both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly which expands the rights of those sexually abused to seek justice in civil courts, is finally scheduled to be signed into law.

Deemed to be one of the most comprehensive and impactful new laws of its kind in the country, Governor Murphy, on Monday morning, plans to sign Senator Vitale’s bill (S477) but apparently and inexplicitly, he plans to do so unceremoniously.

Given the hard-fought struggles and achievements of this legislation, one might have expected a more dramatic roll out, to say the least.

There is an expansive stone plaza that adorns the entryway to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark that might have served as the appropriate venue for a public signing ceremony.

A magnificent backdrop and a more fitting observance for this significant new law would be more fathomable for the church faithful who by far has been way ahead of the church hierarchy on the crisis issue of sexual abuse.

After all, Pope Francis just this week decreed that every diocese in the world would now be obliged to report abuse under Vatican law.

Senator Vitale, in response to the ‘private signing ceremony’ plans to host a conference of sorts on Monday afternoon at the Statehouse, a ceremony that shines a deserved light on his new law and he has invited some of the key figures in its successful passage to speak about it.

Those include Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) along with Patricia Teffenhart of the NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Mark Crawford of the NJ chapter of SNAP and Marci Hamilton of the advocacy group CHILDUSA all of whom deserve public recognition for their stalwart efforts for this pioneering new law.

Senator Vitale’s legislation now allows for upgraded safeguards and outright recourse in civil court for those who’ve been abused, regardless of when they filed their claims or at what age.

The Senator recently told the Star-Ledger “he always assumed his bill would be a public event…that sexual assault ranks number two behind homicide and that it’s necessary to talk about this publicly.”

Vitale always knew and steadfastly believed there was a desperate need for statute of limitation amendment. He was right and he, for one, is responsible for translating rhetoric into reform.

The Church was late with its promise to release the names of clergy members credibly accused of abusing children and those who enabled them to do so. They continue to have you believe they are capable of policing themselves.

But, It was the failure of the Church to police itself that necessitated sending in the cops and the prosecutors and for legislative reform.

Now, thanks to Vitale’s efforts, it’s up to the courts to decide on the merits of each and every case of abuse.

New Jersey’s Attorney General, who heads up a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members, recently announced plans to publish a report similar to Pennsylvania’s. “The people of this state have a right to know,” he told the Star-Ledger.

Indeed they do and Senator Vitale is right to have expected a public signing of his legislation. To Senator Vitale we say, job well done.

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  • Henry

    Isn’t it interesting, Sen. Joe singled out the Catholic Church, however, he never mentioned the Boy Scout leadership where it was found that thousands in leadership were abusive too.

    • Todd Kostrub

      You forgot Penn State, Larry Nassar and the Olympic Gymnastic Committee/Michigan State University, the US Drum Corp, countless schools, etc. Any and all organizations, public or private that refuses to report any child sexual abuse and instead hides, assists, ignores, pretends the info they suspect of know doesn’t exist will now be held responsible. My point is that if he listed all organizations it would include almost all aspects of our society. But the Church, of which I’m a member, claims the moral high ground. They are supposed to stand for all that’s right in this world. Instead they have for centuries hidden what they knew….and soon it will all be public knowledge. Much like PA the NJ report is going to be disgusting.

  • Todd Kostrub

    Senator Vitale and Mark Crawford (along with many others: Senator Scutari, Assemblywoman Quijano, etc)
    spent years and years (almost 2 decades) to let survivors of the worse crime a human can commit on another short of murder (and any criminal behind bars considers child rape as worse than murder) to taste some justice. God Bless each and every one of them…..for years I’ve waited for this day.

  • Henry

    However, the Boy Scouts is no small organization by any means, which has a strict code of ethics and a moral high ground. These adult men leaders were entrusted to by the children’s parents, to spend weeks away from home and be with their children sleeping in the same tent. They BROKE that trust! The Boy Scouts should have been mentioned, just ask the plethora of those who were abused.

  • Henry

    Joe must read this blog. He finally mention the Boy Scouts and others!

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