Senators weigh changes to time limits in child sexual abuse cases

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The debate over changing Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations law in child sexual abuse cases returned to the state Capitol on Wednesday.

​The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing focused on three bills. ​​House Bill 962 would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit until the age of 55. The current statute expires at age 30.

​​”We want the truth to be told. We want to know how and why this has happened to us, and we want justice. We have been denied justice for so long,” said state Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), the sponsor of House Bill 962 and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.​​

Senate Bill 540 would abolish the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child and adult victims of sexual abuse.

​​House Bill 963 calls for a constitutional amendment to open a two-year window for childhood victims to file a lawsuit if the abuse happened before the statute of limitations ran out.​ ​The retroactive window has been shot down in the past due to some calling it unconstitutional.​​

Some who testified at Wednesday’s hearing argued the window would subject victims to lengthy and costly court battles and put churches in jeopardy of having to file for bankruptcy.

​​”If you’re going to end up cutting programs and cutting people and cutting services as a way of being able to pay judgments, that has to have an effect on the common good,” said Mark Chopko, of the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.​

House bills 962 and 963 both passed the House earlier this year and are awaiting consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.​

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