HARRISBURG, March 2, 2015 — A bipartisan group of lawmakers held a Capitol news conference today to highlight the drastic need for reform of Pennsylvania's archaic laws affecting victims of child sexual abuse.
State Reps. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), Louise Bishop (D-Phila.), Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Phila.) and Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin/Perry), as well prominent reform advocates, discussed their respective bills, which are largely modeled after previously introduced legislation that would modify the statute of limitations to allow victims to seek civil action against perpetrators.
Rozzi's House Bill 661 and Teplitz's Senate Bill 582 would raise the age from 30 to 50 years for an adult victim of child sex abuse to file a civil claim, consistent with criminal statute. Previously time-barred victims would be permitted to bring suit.
"For victims of child sexual abuse, the pain and suffering never go away. The perpetrator suffers no consequences. Because of time limits imposed on victims, the perpetrator is free to keep stalking, grooming and destroying more children's lives. As legislators, we have an obligation to institute laws that safeguard our citizens; especially those who cannot protect themselves, our children," Rozzi said. "I am grateful to my colleagues and those who made it a priority to stand in support of these important legislative initiatives. We will continue to fight for their right to justice. Pedophiles don't retire and our law should not protect their heinous acts."
"We wanted to put out strong legislation that would protect victims while ensuring that it was meaningful and passable. Our bills represent a fair compromise that we believe will still close loopholes and help victims seek justice," Teplitz said. "I want to thank Representative Rozzi for taking the lead on this legislation, and for his determination and advocacy on behalf of victims of this horrific crime."Read more...
By Charles Thompson | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Patriot News Harrisburg, PA
March 02, 2015
Pennsylvania lawmakers spent a lot of time and effort in the last legislative session working to prevent future cases like the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State.
In many ways, the state is still adjusting to those changes.
But advocates rallied at the Capitol Monday for one more change they say is needed to deliver justice to those who've already been abused: extending the time frames that former victims have to seek civil damages against their abusers.
Current state law bars a victim of childhood sexual abuse from bringing a civil case against a perpetrator after the victim turns 30.
It's not long enough, advocates say, for many childhood victims to come to terms with what happened to them. As a result, it has the effect of sheltering too many perpetrators from accountability for their actions.
"It's high time that we accept that delayed reporting (of sexual abuse by victims) is the norm," said Kristen Houser, vice president of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
"We have recently seen glaring examples of this in the Boy Scouts, in religious institutions, in schools and most recently with the allegations against Bill Cosby. It's time for us to stop asking why... and finally change our laws so they are based in reality."
Bills offered by Rep. Mark Rozzi,, D-Berks County, and Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin County, would raise the statute of limitations on civil action to age 50 for cases arising from incidents of childhood sexual abuse.
They would also remove immunity from the state, local government or private employers in the event of a finding of gross negligence by supervisors in a case of child sexual abuse by one of their employees or agents.Read more...