Trish...just some clarification on the Hardwicke ruling. It was in fact the NJ Supreme court which, in this ruling not only upheld an appelate court ruling from December of 04, but expanded it.
John started his case in 2001 and it was tossed out by a Mercer county judge who said Charitable Immunity trumped his right to a trial, even if the schools action was wanton, willful even criminal. The case was later reinstated by the Appelate division in December 03 and oral arguments were made to the Supreme Court in December 04. Finally ruling yesterday, the supreme court went even further and clarified many things making it a bit easier for child sex abuse victims to bring action against such institutions.
Further, in January of this year, then Governor Codey signed a bill I initiated (fighting since 1999), this new law effectively wipes out charitable immunity as a defense, lowered the threshold from gross negligence to simple negligence and did so RETROACTIVELY. So Charitable Immunity in NJ can NEVER be used as a defense again....regardless of when the abuse occured.
BUT NJ IS NOT ALL OKAY...we still have a horrible Statute of Limitations which is only 2 years from the age of majority (18), which gives a survivor until the age of 20 or 2 years from when the abuse occured with 1 exception. He or she must prove that they only recently (within the last 2 years, if they are beyond the age of 20) made the connection between their abuse and the harm they incurred as a result of that abuse. The delayed discovery exception is a good thing but hard to sometimes prove and 2 years is one of the shortest and worst in the nation. I with John am about to go to work here in NJ to fix that. Stay tuned for more in about a week or so.
Getting back to the American Boychoir School. Their school President stated in one of the MANY articles which ran on Wednesday that they want to see this case resolved so the school and Mr. Hardwicke can go on. More Spin
I find this statement VERY disengenuine
. Why have they vigorously opposed his case since 2001. Further, the school says they have addressed this issue and there no longer is a problem...what a bunch of crap! If you go to the schools website http://www.Americanboychoir.org
you will see on their link regarding child protection, they attack John Hardwicke and another mother who testified before the NJ Assembly. When she went to the school to complain about her son being sexually abused by another student (only a few years ago, 2002) they turned around and suspended him for not reporting the abuse to the school, he was either 10 or 12 years old at the time. This school not unlike many of the bishops in the Catholic Church, just refuse to be accountable!
The school in it's statement to the press also claims it is a victim of the Choir Master who abused John. Yet they drove him to Canada for a concert and he never returned to answer John's action. In fact the school gave him a glowing recommendation after they were aware he had abused other boys.
No the school has not changed and only has itself and its attorneys to blame for allowing this festering wound to continue
For those not familair...victims say there were scores of boys abused at this school for decades. The cook, grounds keeper, faculty, choir director and at times the neighbors abused these boys in class, in the hallways, in their bedrooms, on tours etc...
The school and like institutions in NJ MUST be investigated!
FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT JOHN HARDWICKE...
he maintains a necessary website where the truth of the abuse for many is told...listen to the audio clips on each page, you can go to http://www.americanboyschoir.com
and you can leave him a message there by contacting the webmaster or you can contact me as well for his e-mail address.
Many articles on the Supreme Court decision ran on the front page on Wednesday in the Star Ledger, Jersey Journal, Press of Atlantic City, The Trenton Times, The Trentonian, the Courier and many other papers. Please find the articles (Google Search NEWS and put in John Hardwicke)on-line and write a Letter to the Editor to any of these papers. Write them about the need for NJ law enforcement to investigate this school and/or the Church to uncover the truth about their abusive past histories. Tell them what you think of the American Boychoir school and tell them that the Statute of limitations MUST change here in NJ.
IT'S TIME FOR THE AMERICAN BOYCHOIR SCHOOL TO SING A NEW TUNE! If they really want to make John Hardwicke whole, they must exhibit a willingness to accept accountability, and speak with a contrite heart, again the response they posted on their own website (child protection link)shows they are note there yet! Here's to hoping for a real conversion!
Sorry for the long response.
Thanks, Mark Crawford
Co-Director NJ SNAP
former MaleSurvivor Board member