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#31517 - 11/08/03 11:31 AM Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Fred Tolson Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 375
Loc: Denver, CO
Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Hardwicke v The American Boychoir

On Wednesday November 12, 2003 at 9:30 a.m. in the historic Morristown, New Jersey Courthouse, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division will hear argument on an issue crucial to anyone who may have been, or may in the future be, victimized by any non-profit religious, charitable or educational institution in the State of New Jersey.

A New Jersey trial court has interpreted the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act to provide broad immunity to such institutions for all civil liability. The effect of the court's decision is to immunize so called "charitable" institutions from liability for sexual abuse of children, even if the institution knew of, fostered or even intended that abuse. If that decision is allowed to stand, New Jersey will become a safe haven for pedophiles to open shop as "charitable institutions" allowing them to abuse children with impunity and leaving their victims with little or no civil remedy.

The issues before the Appellate Division include a challenge to the constitutionality of the Charitable Immunity Act as it was interpreted by the trial court. The language of the Charitable Immunity Act is specific to immunize certain charitable institutions from simple "negligence." The trial court expanded this language to include even intentional torts and fraudulent conduct and justified its actions by calling it "judicial gloss." The challenge to this interpretation argues that if such expansion of the plain language of the Act is allowed to stand, then the Act, under its expanded interpretation, violates the rights guaranteed by the New Jersey Constitution.

The appeal is being handled by the law firm of Piper Rudnick and oral argument will be given by internationally recognized constitutional scholar Lawrence Lessig.

For more information please contact Keith Smith of Piper Rudnick at 215-656-3325


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#31518 - 11/09/03 02:56 AM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
JohnW Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Maryland
New Jersey is one of only a few states to have something called Charitable Immunity.

The law is grossly unfair. It has been used to prevent charitable organizations like schools, hospitals, and religious institutions from being held responsible for the negligent and even criminal acts of employees.

Because of Charitable Immunity it doesn't matter if the charity knew or even purposely allowed the criminal behavior of employees. The instituion is simply immune from liability.

At the school I attended, the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey, sexual abuse by staff members was rampant and it went on for decades. Under the court's interpretation of the New Jersey law it wouldn't even matter if the school had advertised for pedophiles to teach the children. The school would still be immune from prosecution.


I want to urge everyone who can attend the hearing to please attend and to show their support for victims of abuse.




Quote:
Originally posted by Fred Tolson:
Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Hardwicke v The American Boychoir

On Wednesday November 12, 2003 at 9:30 a.m. in the historic Morristown, New Jersey Courthouse, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division will hear argument on an issue crucial to anyone who may have been, or may in the future be, victimized by any non-profit religious, charitable or educational institution in the State of New Jersey.

A New Jersey trial court has interpreted the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act to provide broad immunity to such institutions for all civil liability. The effect of the court's decision is to immunize so called "charitable" institutions from liability for sexual abuse of children, even if the institution knew of, fostered or even intended that abuse. If that decision is allowed to stand, New Jersey will become a safe haven for pedophiles to open shop as "charitable institutions" allowing them to abuse children with impunity and leaving their victims with little or no civil remedy.

The issues before the Appellate Division include a challenge to the constitutionality of the Charitable Immunity Act as it was interpreted by the trial court. The language of the Charitable Immunity Act is specific to immunize certain charitable institutions from simple "negligence." The trial court expanded this language to include even intentional torts and fraudulent conduct and justified its actions by calling it "judicial gloss." The challenge to this interpretation argues that if such expansion of the plain language of the Act is allowed to stand, then the Act, under its expanded interpretation, violates the rights guaranteed by the New Jersey Constitution.

The appeal is being handled by the law firm of Piper Rudnick and oral argument will be given by internationally recognized constitutional scholar Lawrence Lessig.

For more information please contact Keith Smith of Piper Rudnick at 215-656-3325



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#31519 - 11/09/03 02:49 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
helpmystephen Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/07/02
Posts: 19
Loc: nyc
If anyone is interested in not only attending this hearing but also participating in a peacful protest to this ridicules immunity law please pm me.


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#31520 - 11/09/03 03:22 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
The effect of the court's decision is to immunize so called "charitable" institutions from liability for sexual abuse of children, even if the institution knew of, fostered or even intended that abuse.
Some things are so sick that if an individual said, or did, them they would be locked up.

If this is allowed to happen.........

I'm speechless...

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#31521 - 11/10/03 11:21 AM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Pollyanna Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 211
Loc: Missouri
Ok this just went to the top of my list of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

To have the audacity to suggest that SOME people shouldn't be accountable for what they do...
If it's wrong for one, it's wrong for everyone.

If they don't want to be accountable, then maybe they should be a little more selective in their staffing procedures, eh? Nooooooo, that would be too easy. It's right up there with suing McDonalds cuz kids are getting fat. Puhleeease.

Is there some kind of petition somewhere for this? If not, there should be. Not being in N.J., it may not make a difference what I think, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who ARE in N.J. who would have something to say. If there's something non-Jersey people can do, please let us know.

This simply CAN'T happen!

Lynn

_________________________
"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

Anne Lamott

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#31522 - 11/10/03 12:55 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
thegoebs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 1
Loc: New Jersey
Many of you may already know that the NJ legislature has sat on several bills that have been crafted to adjust charitable immunity and even statue of limitations laws that favor institutions not choldren or victims. Please come to the courthouse in Morristown on Wednesday and bring your friends and family. We need to let the legislature know that there are many of us looking to them to fix the problems with the laws that caused this case to go to the appeal process to begin with.

I will be there on Wednesday, please join me!!!!


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#31523 - 11/10/03 04:28 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Mark Crawford Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 73
Loc: New Jersey
YES THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO!!!

First, we do need anyone and everyone to attend this hearing...if you have anyway of getting there early Wednesday morning please do so. If you need directions to the Morristown, New Jersey court house call 973-829-8220. When people show up who aren't directly linked to this case it tells these judges the victims WILL SPEAK OUT. We will not accept this trampling of our rights any longer!

They have gotten away with this in NJ for far too long....ONLY YOUR INVOLVEMENT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

In 1999 I asked our State Senator, Joseph Vitale to address the archiac law. He agreed with me and introduced bill S-843. It was assigned to the judiciary committee where it can only be moved along if the committee president decides to "post the bill for a hearing" Senators Gormley of Atlantic City and Senator Adler also from south Jersey have routinely ignored these victims! The have ignored many requests to post this bill for a hearing. Gormley openly stated in the New York Times, "this bill will go nowhere".

Further, Archbishop Meyers and Mr. Boland, the head of the New Jersey Catholic Conference quietly met with Senator Cody (NJ Senate President) to request that he oppose this legislation...he would not do that.

The current law states that as a member of the non-profit you derived a benifit from that non-profit therefore you have NO CIVIL RECOURSE against this institution. So when a child has a felony crime committed against him or her do you suppose they understand the benifit they are recieving? Now if they are not a member they could in fact bring a cause of action but as we all know this is rarely the case.

The law I proposed would eliminate thier immunity ONLY in cases involving the sexual molestation of a minor. Most people believe these institutions shouldn't have ANY immunity, why should they be above the law? Who could/would oppose this???

Tommorow I will post all contact info for these Senators, I urge you to call thier office, e-mail them...write them letters and demand they change this law now!!!

I do have petitions you can sign but of course they have far more impact coming from a NJ voter. Call your friends and family in NJ and tell them you need their help. If I can I will post the attachments (petitions) here in a Word file.

Again I encourage ALL SURVIVORS, and their supporters to contact these law makers and tell them to ACT RESPONSIBLY!

Anyone who plans on attending a peaceful demo outside the courthouse please send me a private e-mail asap.

Thanks for your support! Only together will we make a difference!

Mark Crawford
Survivor, Advocate


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#31524 - 11/10/03 07:21 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Ivanhoe Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/19/03
Posts: 1907
John, Mark and all,

Why don't they just call it, "The New Jersey Charity Impunity Act," 'the gift to pedaphiles everywhere, the gift that keeps on destroying.'"

I wrote a letter this weekend, to my 8th grade teacher who abused me.

We have to stand up and be counted. It may be hard for some of us, and for others, impossible, but for those of us who can, we've got to drag ourselves up and be counted.

Oh, my brothers, can you believe what this court has to consider...........our furture......the futures of the future...........it truly boggles the mind.

Who is suppoting such law? Who is suggesting such shit? Is it a pedophile lobby?
Who in their right mind could ever think of not supporting the children? Are they child abusers themselves, who don't want to pay for their crimes?

The inmates are truly running this asylum, called Society.

Again, I will put Christmas money into a gift for those who go unheard.............and hurt. Tell me where to send funds for the striking down of such incredibly bad law, and for the raising of our voice.

John, please tell the boys of the choir that the boys of malesurvivor stand with them.

Peace, power and courage,

David

_________________________
"No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence."
George Eliot

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#31525 - 11/12/03 08:41 AM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
From Wednesday's Trenton Times:

Abuse victims hope for reversal


Wednesday, November 12, 2003


By KAREN AYRES
Staff Writer

John Hardwicke did not stand out as the best alto singer at the American Boychoir School back in 1970.

Nor does he set himself apart now with his accounts of sexual molestation at the Princeton Township school some 33 years later.

"It started out as touching on the shoulder, and then it just progressed from there to be more and more," Hardwicke said yesterday during a telephone interview. "It was all the time."


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The Maryland resident filed a lawsuit against the prestigious music school in 2001. Soon thereafter, dozens of former students came forward to report abuse by school employees, and a class-action lawsuit was filed a year later.

But a Superior Court judge put a stop to the cases early this year when he ruled the school was not liable for damages under the state's "Charitable Immunity Act," which protects certain nonprofit groups against negligence claims.

Hardwicke and Douglas Palmatier - a Summit resident who filed the class-action suit - say the ruling is unfair, and they are slated to appeal the decision this morning to a three-judge appeals court panel in Morristown.

The ruling, which is not expected today, could open up the famous boarding school to dozens of lawsuits from former students who are reportedly waiting to decide whether to pursue their own cases of alleged abuse.

It also will have massive ramifications for nonprofit institutions like the Catholic Church, which are largely protected from civil lawsuits related to sexual abuse claims under the immunity law.

"If that decision is allowed to stand, New Jersey could become a safe haven for pedophiles - allowing them to abuse children with impunity and leaving their victims without civil remedy," said Keith Smith, Hardwicke's lawyer.-- -- --

When Hardwicke first entered the American Boychoir School in 1969, the seventh-grader was not abused.

It was a year later when Donald Hanson, a new choir director, arrived at the school that the molestation began, Hardwicke said yesterday.

"Within a couple weeks of his arrival at the school, that is when he started to molest me and the other kids as well," he said.

"There were certain things that happened that were really difficult for me because they didn't feel comfortable, but I was the teacher's pet. I was flattered. I really got very confused about what was happening."

Hardwicke said he never reported the sexual assaults to his parents, and though he knew of at least one other student who also was being victimized at the time, no one spoke of it.

"I felt it gave me some value, but in fact I've come to recognize it really devalued me," said Hardwicke, who said he was abused by other employees as well.

He left school in the spring of 1971 and ultimately finished his schooling in his native Maryland.

"I had been a straight-A student," he said. "I became a very poor student and socially withdrawn. I never related all those problems to the fact that I had been abused."

It was roughly 20 years later, after Hardwicke sought help from a therapist, that he ultimately realized he had been abused.

"It was only through an awful lot of talking with the therapist that I realized I was a little kid and I was being manipulated," he said.

"I called all sorts of boys from the school. Many of the kids from the school had been abused and went on to abuse drugs, question their sexuality and have affairs. What we all shared was this sense of guilt and shame and darkness that has really followed all of us through our lives."

Hardwicke, who now operates a Web site about abuse that allegedly occurred at the school, said he decided to file a lawsuit against Hanson and the school largely because of how the abuse has continued to harm him.

"It's difficult to have as close a sexual relationship as I would like with my wife," he said. "Kissing my wife becomes difficult because of having been french-kissed by Mr. Hanson, and that was something that was very hard for me.

"It's just so pervasive in every aspect of my life."

Hardwicke's wife, Terri, is also a plaintiff in the case.-- -- --

Superior Court Judge Jack Sabatino ruled that Hardwick and Palmatier's claims against Hanson, the former choir director, could go forward.

But though Hanson was served with a copy of the suit in 2001 at his home in Canada, that was the last time anyone involved with the lawsuit has heard from or seen Hanson.

As a result, he could not be contacted for this story.

"We have no real hope of being able to pursue him for anything," Smith said. "We don't know exactly where he is."

When Sabatino ruled in January that Hardwicke's claims against the school could not go forward because the Charitable Immunity Act protects nonprofits like the school, "no matter how flagrant that conduct may be," it left the plaintiffs little choice but to appeal.

The immunity act, which dates to 1958, covers nonprofits organized for religious, charitable or educational purposes and only applies to those who are a beneficiary of the group.

Smith, Hardwick's lawyer, said yesterday the judge's decision was unfair because he rejected claims of negligence and other more aggressive charges such as assault and battery as well as false imprisonment that should be allowed to go forward.

The New Jersey Legislature amended the immunity act in 1995 to specifically exclude grossly negligent and willful acts from the protection.

"The trial court's interpretation of this case is too broad," Smith said.

The judge also ruled in a separate decision that the school could not be held liable under the state's Child Sexual Abuse Act because the facility was not classified as a person under the law.

"The logic that an entity can't be a guardian is flawed," Smith said. "It's clear even a common definition of person in the law certainly includes corporations."

Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor and former American Boychoir student, is expected to argue on behalf of Hardwicke and the other victims at today's hearing, and the constitutionality of the law is expected to come under fire.

It was unclear yesterday what the American Boychoir side will argue.

The school referred all inquiries from reporters to lawyer Jay Greenblatt, who declined to comment on the case.

Since the accounts of abuse were made public, the school has sent letters to alumni about the incidents and started a helpline staffed by a psychologist in hopes of encouraging victims to talk about their experiences. Other lawsuits with similar allegations have been settled.-- -- --

If Hardwicke and the other former choir students are not successful with the appeal today, there is a chance the state law could be changed by the Legislature.

There are now multiple bills pending that would narrow the scope of the law so childhood sex abuse victims could pursue cases.

But the bills haven't gone anywhere.

William Bolan, executive director of the state's Catholic Conference, said his group has strongly opposed the proposed changes.

"It's unfair to penalize the charitable employer where the flaw that gives rise to the sexual abuse is not discernible," Bolan said. "There exists no psychological testing that would identify a person with a proclivity for sexual abuse. You cannot put someone on a pedophile machine."

Bolan contends perpetrators should be held personally responsible for their actions, not the institutions that employ them.

"They have a right to get something from the person who did it to them - assuming they can prove it was done - not the employers," Bolan said. "Just because they can't find the perpetrator, that doesn't mean you can pick someone else."

State Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Lawrence, said she decided to sign on as co-sponsor of a bill to restrict the act after meeting with a constituent who was abused by a Catholic priest.

"Every organization, or institution for that matter, has to take a greater responsibility for protecting children," Turner said. "In doing so they need to do a thorough background check of the people they employ.

"I don't think the bill is a perfect bill. We have to have a balance between the rights of the victim and the rights of the accused." (


Copyright 2003 NJ.com. All Rights Reserved.


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#31526 - 11/12/03 10:49 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Richard Gartner, PhD Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 404
Loc: New York, NY, USA
Tell us how it went

_________________________
www.richardgartner.com

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