Charity starts at home, not in court,
writes Paul Mushine, and mentions a local case:
Even in the absence of the bill, the state Supreme Court is considering ending charitable immunity on its own. The court heard arguments Monday on the question of whether one charitable institution, the American Boychoir School in Princeton, can be sued by a former student who alleges that he was molested as an eighth-grader back in the 1970-71 school year.
The school president, Don Edwards, says the school is sympathetic to that ex-student and others who were molested by a pedophile who was on the faculty back then. But the alleged perpetrator was fired in 1982 and now lives in Canada, he said.
Meanwhile, the school has adopted an anti-molestation policy that has become a national model.
“I don’t see what public purpose is accomplished by going back 30 to 40 years,” Edwards said. “We already got the message long ago.”
If the court allows the suit to proceed — or if the bill becomes law — then any charitable institution in the state can be sued over long-ago offenses, he said. “A 72-year-old man could claim that a YMCA camp counselor fondled him 60 years ago when he was 12,” Edwards said.
The charge might even be true. If so, however, the victim should be paid out of that mythical pot of money that exists in the trial lawyers’ heads, not out of any actual money that could otherwise be used to do good works in New Jersey.
What good would it do to bankrupt a school because of the evil one man did 25+ years ago, when
a) the school has clearly done all that’s in its power
b) the perpetrator was fired 22 years ago, and left the country?