Diocese of Camden seeks to push up deadline for sex abuse survivors to file claims
Survivors of child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Camden may have a shorter time to file claims now that the diocese is in the process of filing for bankruptcy.
The diocese is now looking to move up the date for survivors of abuse to come forward to Feb. 26, by filing a motion in bankruptcy court on Wednesday.
"Once a bankruptcy court sets a date like this, if that date was set and that time passes, in fact, you would no longer have a potential claim against the entity. So, it does have that harsh effect,” says attorney Jay Mascolo of the law firm Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo.
Mascolo says that the filing goes against the state statute, with a deadline of Nov. 30, 2021.
"This is coming from over 100 clients I represent - victims of child sexual abuse. The stories are almost always the same. ‘I didn't have the capacity and I didn't want to deal with this when I was 20, when I was 30,’ so that's the entire premise of the law. It gives people the natural time to move forward on their terms when they're ready to do so,” Mascolo says.
A group of New Jersey legislators backing the survivors, in a statement, said in part, "This deprives them of eight months that they were previously granted to file their suits. No single bankruptcy process should be able to shorten the timeline established by the 2019 law."
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Camden said in a statement that the courts will ultimately decide the date, adding that it has already settled more than 170 claims and paid over $20 million to survivors and nearly $1 million in therapeutic care since the 1990's.
While the February deadline isn’t set in stone yet, Mascolo says that he hopes victims consider coming forward.
"I understand it's difficult. Myself, other attorneys that handle these cases are very sensitive and deal with this a lot, but the time to come forward is now,” he says.