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Clergy abuse survivors urge PA Senate to pass reforms

Lawmakers return to Harrisburg Monday

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - Eight weeks after a scathing grand jury report on the Catholic church, clergy abuse survivors are urging state lawmakers to act.

With just a handful of voting days left in the Pennsylvania Senate Session, victims are going across the commonwealth sharing their stories and advocating for reform.

The president of the national group "Stop Child Predators" which is based in Washington, D.C. and two clergy abuse survivors visited Scranton Friday morning.

While the PA House has overwhelming passed reforms recommended by grand jurors, the Pennsylvania Senate has not yet taken a vote.

"If I were a state senator in Pennsylvania I would be embarrassed of my inaction. For decades, survivors have come forward in this state and lawmakers have turned their back on them," Stacie Rumenap, president of Stop Child Predators said.

Stacie Rumenap was joined by two men who say they are clergy abuse survivors.

Jim VanSickle says he was groomed and abused by a priest in the Erie-area 37 years ago.

"The only two emotions that I had were fear and anger and usually it was always anger!" Jim VanSickle said.

VanSickle wants to see a civil window which would allow victims who have been barred by statue of limitations to file civil suits against their predator priests.

That recommendation has faced opposition from some, including the church itself which has advocated for a survivors' compensation program instead.

"How do you turn your back on 1,000 kids in the commonwealth? How do you make a decision that doesn't allow me to have my voice in a court of law?" VanSickle asked.

Ryan O'Connor is also a survivor.

He wants every state senator to look at their own children or young relatives and put their innocence over special interest groups.

"They need to look at those children. They need to take a good, hard, long look at them and see the innocence," Ryan O'Connor said.

The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday. It has just three scheduled voting days currently on the docket before its two-year session is scheduled to end.

If the PA Senate does not act on the grand jury recommendations, any legislation would have to be introduced again next session.


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