Statute of Limitations Bill Stalled in PA Legislature
Posted on: June 17, 2021 Sexual Abuse & Assault Lawsuits
Pressure to change existing statute of limitations laws for survivors of sexual abuse began to emerge from the public after a 2018 grand jury report from the state’s Attorney General shed light on just how deep the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse ran in Pennsylvania. Three years later, efforts to change those laws are still getting bogged down in the state’s legislature.
A bill to open a revival window for survivors of sexual abuse passed both chambers of the General Assembly and should have been on the May 2021 ballot for voters to decide. However, the Department of State failed to properly advertise the question and therefore it couldn’t be included on the ballot. While a constitutional amendment could change the law, the earliest it could appear on a ballot would be 2023, causing survivors to have to wait two more years for any potential avenue to justice. However, lawmakers could also pass a new bill to open a revival window for survivors of child sexual abuse.
While House Bill 951 has already passed the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Republican leaders have declined to hold a final vote on the proposed legislation. Erica Wright, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said Republicans are still trying to figure out whether or not a window for survivors can be opened without amending the state’s constitution. “This is an important and delicate matter that is being reviewed. I think it is fair to say the victims and elected officials have a common goal. I also understand and acknowledge the victims are frustrated with the timeline,” Wright said. “It has been suggested that we are stalling HB 951. We are not.”
While survivors and their supporters will continue to push forward, having to fight for every inch of ground takes an emotional toll. “People are tiring,” said Michael McDonnell, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Some survivors are just so exhausted and they are comfortable with knowing that the constitutional amendment process has begun again.”
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