classroom-1424729-1279x959The New Jersey Appellate Division recently held that a public day school cannot be liable under the Child Sexual Abuse Act (“CSAA”), N.J.S.A. 2A:61B-1, as a “passive abuser.”  In the opinion (approved for publication) of J.P. v. Smith et al., a plaintiff-student brought claims of sexual abuse against the Southern Regional High School and Southern Regional School Board (the “School”) alleging she was subject to repeated sexual abuse by the School’s assistant band director, co-defendant Gregory Smith.

The acts of abuse allegedly occurred at the School, where the plaintiff was a student, during two School-organized overnight trips, and in the plaintiff’s home. The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s CSAA claim, finding that the CSAA’s definition of passive sexual abuse limits potential liability to those person(s) “within the household.” Thus, the Appellate Division held that the School, a public day school, could not be held liable because it did not fit within the statutory definition.

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