RAMSEY, N.J. — A 270-mile walk originally scheduled to end last month in Mahwah has become a lifelong journey for a 68-year-old sexual abuse survivor.
Fred Marigliano set off on Sept. 11 from the Cape May lighthouse on a mission to raise awareness about a proposal to give sex crime victims in New Jersey up to 30 years to sue their abusers.
The Somerset County resident, who was molested by a Plainfield priest when he was 9, was accompanied by his wife, Maggie."We wanted the public to understand that New Jersey has some of the weakest laws to protect kids and bring justice to people who were raped and molested," he said.
Marigliano planned to end the walk in Mahwah on Oct. 9, but the reaction along the way convinced him to keep going. He was in Newark on Thursday and planned on visiting any municipality that invites him to spread awareness.
Three years ago, Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) proposed a bill to extend the statute of limitations from two to 30 years for victims to sue their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has since tabled the measure twice, Marigliano said.
"Politicians told us that too many victims would clog up the courts," he said, refusing to quit.
The "Walk to end SOL" should have taken Marigliano a little more than two weeks. But poignant exchanges with pedestrians, law enforcement officers and government officials pushed the finish line two more weeks ahead.
One 20-something Mahwah resident told the Marigliano that she was raped by a neighbor and thrown into his car when she was 14.
"She said maybe it was her fault because she wore her pants too tight," Marigliano said. "A lot of victims believe it was their fault, but how could it possibly be? This went on and on."
The couple also ran into a man in South Jersey who he said was on his way to commit suicide. He walked with them for three miles.
The couple walked through several other municipalities in Bergen County including Allendale, Washingtown Township, Westwood and more.
"We just tell people they're not alone," Maggie Marigliano said.
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