A New Jersey judge has dismissed two lawsuits against the American Boychoir School, where dozens of former students say they were molested as children by the choir director and other employees. The judge ruled that as a nonprofit institution, the school could not be sued for acts that injured children, "no matter how flagrant that conduct may be."
In a decision issued on Monday, Judge Jack Sabatino of New Jersey Superior Court ruled that New Jersey's Charitable Immunity Act prevented victims from suing the Princeton-based boarding school, although they could sue individual employees who abused them or did not try to stop abuse.
Noting that lawmakers and the courts had interpreted the law as granting nonprofit groups broad protections, Judge Sabatino wrote, "This court is constrained to hold that the act insulates charitable organizations from liability for any degree of tortious conduct, no matter how flagrant that conduct may be." He ruled that "contentions that employees and agents of the American Boychoir School acted willfully, wantonly, recklessly, indifferently — even criminally — do not eviscerate the school's legal protection."
The decision affects two suits against the Boychoir School by men who accused Donald Hanson, who ran the school's choir from 1970 to 1982, of molesting them as children.
In one suit, John W. Hardwicke Jr., 45, a White Hall, Md., resident who attended the Boychoir School from 1969 to 1971, said he was molested by Mr. Hanson and three other employees, from a headmaster to a cook. In the other suit, Douglas Palmatier, who started at the Boychoir School at the age of 9 in 1971, said he was raped by Mr. Hanson over the next eight years....
--New York Times
If that strikes you as unjust, you might want to consider e-mailing this guy -- Republican State Senator William L. Gormley, co-chair of the New Jersey State Senate's Judiciary Committee. According to the Times article, he's bottling up legislation that would end charities' immunity from prosecution for employees' sexual abuse on the job, and he's proud of it. His e-mail address is SenGormley@njleg.org.
By the way, according to the Times, "the Catholic Conference has lobbied heavily" to prevent a change in the law.