Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Argued in Pa. Senate Hearing

June 16, 2016

Recent child abuse scandals have drawn attention to the time restrictions the law places on those who want to bring charges against their alleged abusers.  Mark Rozzi, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, is fighting for a House Bill that would end time limits for criminal charges and would permit adults up to age 50 to file civil lawsuits for old instances of sex abuse, no matter how far in the past it occurred. Mark Rozzi said he is fighting hard for the bill because he is a victim of sexual abuse himself. The Pennsylvania House bill 1947 would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations so abusers could be prosecuted at any time, and it would extend from age 30 to age 50 the deadline by which child victims can sue their abusers or the institutions that employed or supervised them. Victims could file lawsuits for abuse that occurred as far back as the 1970s. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference have argued,

“The law could financially devastate parishes and harm worshipers who had nothing to do with abuse by former priests or the supervisors who helped conceal it from the public. They also argue, as the church has in other states that passed or considered such measures, that it would violate the state constitution by retroactively applying a law.”

Priests across the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia are persuading parishioners at mass and writing in church bulletins to contact lawmakers to express conflict of the bill. Governor Wolf has said he would sign the Rozzi bill. Governor Wolf stated, “There is no dollar amount or time limit that can, or should, be placed on holding those accountable who prey on those who are vulnerable and defenseless.”

The major debate about the bill is whether or not to give sexually abused victims the right to sue up until the age of 50 and support the new law or reject the new law and support the state constitution and parishes who had nothing to do with abuse by former priest. The House Bill 1947 applies to all victims of sexual abuse. Kolsby Gordon supports the rights of victims of sexual abuse and victims who deserve justice.