Child sex abuse often results in devastating effects for the victims. Some minor victims exhibit signs of abuse while the abuse is occurring, i.e., become withdrawn or exhibit adult-like sexual behaviors. Other child abuse victims are affected by the abuse later in life or well into adulthood. They often turn to drugs and are unable to have healthy relationships. Some victims even repress the abuse, only to find that these horrible memories somehow resurface later in life and can no longer be repressed. This is what happened to a New Jersey man who was sexually abused by a New Jersey priest when he was a young boy.
NJ Priest Removed from Church Amid Allegations of Sexually Abusing an Alter Boy
Father Michael “Mitch” Walters, a priest at a South Orange, NJ church, has been removed from the church amid allegations that he sexually molested two minors in the early 1980s. Walters is accused of molesting a 12 year old altar boy at St. Cassian Church in Montclair, NJ in 1982 and a 13 year old girl during the same time period. Walters denies the allegations.
The altar boy is now 46 years old and said in an interview that Walters fondled him in a confessional on at least 10 occasions in 1982. The victim also said that Walters kissed him on the lips and gave him wine at church while he was an altar boy and a student at St. Cassian School.
The victim did not tell anyone at the time because Walters told him not to tell anyone and that no one would believe him. The victim eventually stopped going to church and cut off contact with the priest.
The victim said that he developed anxiety, depression and substance abuse problems after being sexually abused. When his own son turned 11 years old, a lot of memories started coming back because his son reminded him of himself around that age. He couldn’t live with it any longer and felt he needed to come forward.
Related: Rights of Victims of Priest/Clergy Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania
Do NJ Sex Abuse Victims Have Legal Rights Years After the Abuse?
Sometimes, victims of sex abuse do not come forward because they believe that the abuse was too long ago and that they lost their legal right to sue. In other words, they think the statute of limitations may have expired. However, the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims in New Jersey is different than the general statute of limitations for individuals injured in other types of accidents.
In general, an individual injured in an accident, whether it is a car accident or a slip and fall accident, has 2 years from the date of the accident to sue responsible parties.
However, victims of sex abuse in New Jersey have 2 years after they discover the injury and its relationship to the abuse. This analysis requires an experienced sex abuse lawyer who can conduct a fact specific inquiry and legal analysis to determine whether a sex abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. Therefore, it is best for sexually abused victims to consult a NJ sex abuse victim’s injury lawyer.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sex abuse, contact Brian Kent, an experienced sex abuse victims civil lawyer in NJ and PA. Mr. Kent handles priest/clergy sex abuse, child molestation, sexual assault and sex abuse cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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Brian Kent has been selected to the 2016 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list. Mr. Kent has been honored with the Super Lawyers designation since 2013. Each year no more than 5% of the nominated lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Prior to 2013, Mr. Kent was selected to the Pennsylvania Rising Stars list in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
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