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#31527 - 11/14/03 03:30 AM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
JohnW Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Maryland
I am the former American Boychoir student who was the plaintiff in the case against the Boychoir.

I just donít know how to express my gratitude to Male Survivor for its support Ė several members of Male Survivor attended the hearing and several others e-mailed and phoned me expressing their best wishes.

I think what was most difficult about the hearing on Wednesday was that it just seemed crazy to me that after more than two years in litigation we still werenít talking about what actually happened at the school. We were still dealing with legal technicalities about whether the school could even be sued.

All I really want is to be able to have my case Ė and the cases of other alumni Ė to be heard by a jury. I want to be able to present the facts in a court of law. I want a jury to hear the evidence about what happened to us.

We were kids and the teachers were supposed to help us. Instead they helped themselves to us. They gave the students liquor and had sex with them Ė sometimes one kid at a time and at other times the teachers had sex with groups of kids.

The boarding school had secret passages with peepholes that the staff used to spy on the children. We were given pornography. We were urinated on. We were sexualized and hurt in too many ways to describe.

Choir directors abused us. The headmaster, teachers, proctors, a school cook and a groundskeeper. It was so bad that even neighbors of the school would sometimes sneak in at night and abuse the boys while they slept.

But we were not just molested at night. It happened all day long.

All of this went on for years and years. Decade after decade kids were molested and nobody ever did anything. Even those adults who were not themselves sexual with the children looked the other way and allowed it to happen.

Iíve talked to many alumni who were molested. We were hurt then and we hurt still. Some are alcoholic or addicted to drugs. Some question their sexuality. Some are addicted to pornography or sex. Some have tried to commit suicide. Some of us are filled with self hatred and shame and guilt.

And now we want somebody to help. We want the school to stand up and say we could have done better, we should have done more, we could have protected these children.

I donít like going to court. I just want the school to acknowledge the harm that was done and, sadly, they wonít do it. So we have to go to court to make them say it.

In America, when we canít get people to do whatís right we donít shoot them or bomb their buildings or hit them. We take them to court. I guess thatís good, but it isnít terribly satisfying because the legal system is time consuming and expensive and full of loopholes like New Jerseyís Charitable Immunity Act which make it difficult if not impossible to bring a lawsuit against many religious or educational organizations like the American Boychoir.

It is all very upsetting to me.

Last night, after the hearing, I talked to one of my classmates who was my best friend when we were kids at the school. He and I were both abused. He was such a little boy when it happened. I mean not only was he literally a little kid at the time, but he was very small for his age.

I wish that somehow Iíd been able to say to him then, when we were so far away from home, when we were lonely, when we needed and wanted to be cared for and loved, that we had to do something to stop the adults from touching us.

But I didnít say anything. As a child I didnít say anything at all. It didnít even occur to me to say anything Ė and, really, we knew we were not supposed to say anything.

But now we are grown men and last night, when I talked to him I told him it was wrong. I told him that we shouldnít have been hurt.

It was thirty years late to tell him that we had to do something, but maybe Ė even after thirty years Ė it wasnít too late to tell him that we have to do something.

Weíve got to do something because even now, even after three decades, the abusers are still inside us, they are still molesting us, theyíre still hurting us. Weíve got to do something.

I donít know what to do. I thought (and I still hope) that taking the school to court would help. I want a jury of my peers to hear the evidence and say the school allowed this to happen. I want a jury to say you were just little kids. It wasnít your fault. The school should have protected you.

So on Wednesday, if we get lucky and if the court finds that the school canít hide behind New Jerseyís Charitable Immunity Act, we get one step closer to being able to be heard in front of a jury and to presenting the facts.

I want to apologize to everyone for telling my story as though it is the worst thing in the world. So many people are hurt everyday and in so many ways even worse than the ways in which we were hurt.

As far as I know no one at the school was chained to a wall or electrocuted or starved or buried in a box.
However, we were little kids and we were hurt very badly.

I donít really know quite what to say, but the short answer to the question how did things go on Wednesday when we argued that the laws of New Jersey should be made fair is this: we were heard. Maybe the court will do something for us. Maybe they wonít. But we wonít give up until justice is done.


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#31528 - 11/14/03 11:34 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Pollyanna Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 211
Loc: Missouri
You're so brave.

Yes it IS the worst thing in the world. To hurt a child--especially like this--is an atrocity.

I just hope they get a jury of people who can comprehend the depth of it all.

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."

Ė Anne Lamott

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#31529 - 11/15/03 04:44 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Mark Crawford Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 73
Loc: New Jersey
I was there at the courthouse and the press briefing which followed. John as well as Mark G, another survivor of the American Boys Choir predator factory, were just GREAT!!! It takes a lot to stand before the press and talk about these atrocities. The court knows we are serious about this case as the courtroom was packed with supporters and the press.

Its done more good than most people think. This story was covered in several NJ papers and these articles did a great job in educating New Jerseyans about the Charitable Immunity Law which grants absolute immunity to institutions who have harbored pedophiles. The bills which are pending have gone no where because of the powerful institutions which have lobbied against them.

I am appaled and horrified that our society will hunt down, prosecute and through CEO's and their co-workers in jail for cheating people out of their money and investments (ENRON), yet an institution like the American Boys Choir can allow the destruction of our greatest assests (OUR CHILDREN)and these men not only will not be sent to jail....you can't even sue their business. Is this outrageous or what? What are these lawmakers thinking when institutions can allow felony crimes to be committed against children yet have IMMUNITY from civil liability. To deny these victims their day in court is to AGAIN silence them! Mike Lew wrote "silence is the glue which keeps sexual abuse firmly in place". I hope you are as mad as I am about this and I HOPE YOU WILL HELP US CHANGE THESE LAWS!!!

The media coverage has finally gotten the attention of the law makers in Trenton who have been opposing this legislation. It now appears they are ready to allow it to move forward. I will be calling on you all soon to write, call and e-mail NJ law makers to tell them how offensive this law is.

I have been told that bill S-843 which would no longer grant immunity to a non profit when a minor has been sexually abused, is about to be posted for a hearing! (I have waited more than 4 years for this day) If it makes it out of committee (seems good) That means the law makers will be voting on it. It could become law by year end.

I am not yet certain of the date but it looks like Monday, November 24 may be the day hearings are to be held regarding this archiac law which MUST be changed.

I HOPE THAT ANYONE, SURVIVORS, SUPPORTERS, PROFESSIONALS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL COME TO TRENTON TO JOIN US, so these law makers will know that people do care about this miscarriage of justice! If any of you are willing to come please clear your calander for this day. I will post more info as soon as I have more details. We will gather as many people as possible and also hold a press conference to educate others on what victims have to go through to be heard in our state. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

If the laws in your state need to be changed we may be headed there next!

I hope to see you in Trenton, NJ on Monday, Nov 24. More details to follow...

Mark Crawford
Advocacy and Activism


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#31530 - 11/17/03 02:10 AM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
JohnW Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Maryland
You can count on me to be at the hearing, to make calls, to send e-mails and to do whatever I can to make a difference.

I think it would be great if we could somehow get a clickable e-mail list of members of New Jersey's Legislature somewhere on MaleSurvivor(or at least a clickable link to the legislature) so that members can conveniently e-mail their thoughts about Charitable Immunity.


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#31531 - 11/17/03 08:23 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
As someone who knows the horrors of boarding school this upsets me greatly, and I have great difficulty in believing that anyone would vote to retain such an abhorent law.

I can't be there in NJ, but I will email if someone tells me where to send it.

And if someone will shout on my behalf I'd be honoured.

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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#31532 - 11/23/03 05:24 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Mark Crawford Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 73
Loc: New Jersey
Below please find the contact infor for the New Jersey Senators who make up the Judiciary Committee...Senators Gormley and Adler are the only two who can agree to post this bill for a public hearing...THIS IS WHAT WE NEED NOW!!!

WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO GETTING THIS HEARING.

I ask you to please call, and fax their offices and ask them to post bill S-843 for a hearing ASAP. This bill is a very NARROW REVISION to this states current law removing immunity in cases involving the sexual molestation of a minor.

All the other Senators will have to vote on it after the hearing so it is important that they hear from you as well. SO PLEASE LET THEM HEAR HOW OUTRAGED WE ARE THAT LAWS LIKE THIS STILL EXIST! NJ is one of only 4 states with this law and NJ's is bar far the most restrictive.

Please help us make a difference, we really need your help. Particularly if you know anyone in NJ who will call or contact them as well.

If you call ask for a legislative aid...they office will probably tell you they are on another line and will take a message.

A few points you may want to mention. Don't be afraid to be firm...they are paid by us to REPRESENT US!!

How can a child be deriving a benefit from any institution when a felony crime is being committed against him/her?

Why should anyone be denied the OPPORTUNITY to civil justice...after all is this not how we "make victims whole" (not sure that is ever possible) but our society allows all victims to seek restitution through our court system, why are these children not allowed?

Why should any institution be above the law and allowed to be held to a lower standard than that of our secular society?

Why is it a non member can initiate a cause of action but a member (of the institution or non-profit)cannot?

Why does NJ law make the assets of these institutions more valuable then the safety of our most precious belongings...our children?

_________________________________________________


The Senator's telephone AND fax numbers are:

John Adler (856) 428-3343 telephone; (856) 428-1358 Fax

William Gormley (609) 646-3500 telephone; (609) 646-6735

James Cafiero (609) 522-0462 telephone; (609) 522-0428 Fax

George Geist (856) 309-2200 telephone; (856) 309-5673 Fax

Nia Gill (973) 509-0388 telephone; (973) 509-9241 Fax

John Girgenti (973) 427-1229 telephone; (973) 423-5895 Fax

Peter Inverso (609) 586-1330 telephone; (609) 586-1906 Fax

Robert Martin (973) 984-0922 telephone; (973) 984-8094 Fax

Paul Sarlo (201) 804-8118 telephone; (201) 804-8644 Fax

Bob Smith (732) 752-0770 telephone; (732) 752-1590 Fax

Thank you again for your help.


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#31533 - 11/30/03 04:53 PM Re: Challenge to New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act
Mark Crawford Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 73
Loc: New Jersey
OKAY...who is ready to help us MAKE A DIFFERENCE this week in NJ? For all those who asked to be involved with Activism and Advocacy Committee or those who just want to help us make the laws better for those who have been victims, I ask that you please pick up the phone and be heard. Please encourage any NJ resident you know to call...but if you are not a resident please don't let that stop you.

If this law doesn't move soon I will organize a rally in the spring and hopefully many victims from all over this country will come to send a powerful message!

I ask that all survivors and supporters to please call these NJ state senators and ask them to:

1. Call Senators Adler and Gormley (info on the list in the above post) and ask them to post this bill (bill S-843, a narrow revision to NJ's Charitable Immunity Act, that would grant members of a religious and/or charitable institution, the right to pursue civil damages, when that institution was negligent and allowed the children to be abused)for a hearing NOW, before this year ends.

2. Call all the other Senators who sit on the Judiciary committee and explain to them why they should support this bill. Why should any institution have immunity when a felony crime has been committed against a child is just OUTRAGEOUS! Please help them understand the effects of sexual abuse and why denying anyone the OPPORTUNITY to civil remedy is to again silence their voice and re-victimize these people.

WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO GETTING A HEARING AND WE MUST STEP UP THE PRESSURE....THEY WON'T DO IT OTHERWISE.

Thanks, Mark


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