Gag order suit in NJ sex abuse case can proceed

MORRISTOWN (AP) — A judge denied motions by both sides Wednesday in a dispute over a confidentiality agreement signed by a victim of sexual abuse at a New Jersey private school in the 1980s, setting the stage for a possible trial.

The victim, who remains unidentified, sued in an effort to be released from the 1988 confidentiality agreement he signed with the Delbarton School. In oral arguments in state Superior Court on Wednesday, his attorney, Gregory Gianforcaro, argued that a 2002 letter sent by the school to its students that vowed a new policy of openness and transparency in dealing with sex abuse charges should apply to his client.

“They put it out there,” Gianforcaro told Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury. “Delbarton reached out to them.”

Hansbury rejected the theory and asked how the letter could apply retroactively.

“How does that apply to the 1988 agreement?” he asked. “Does it affect an agreement that was made 14 years earlier? Is that logical?”

Charles Carella, an attorney for Delbarton, argued that the victim twice failed to file his suit within the statute of limitations: once within six years of the original agreement and again within six years of the 2002 letter if his argument was that that marked a change in policy.

In his ruling denying both sides’ motion for summary judgment — basically an attempt to have the judge decide the case before it goes to trial — Hansbury said the lawsuit brings up a critical issue on which there is apparently little relevant case law. “There’s a huge picture beyond what we’re talking about here,” he added, referring to the case’s possible effect on confidentiality agreements in general.

Gag order suit in NJ sex abuse case can proceed
June 5. 2013
By David Porter
Associated Press