New bill could change PA Statute of Limitations laws

Local News

Time is quickly running out for lawmakers to pass a bill that would change the Statute of Limitations laws in Pennsylvania.

It was one of the recommendations made in the grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

When the grand jury report on child sex abuse in the Pennsylvania Catholic Church was released in August, lawmakers vowed to react. But now, with tomorrow being the last scheduled day for this session, time is running out.

Last month, the House passed Senate bill 261, eliminating the Statute of Limitation for criminal child sex crimes. It also had an amendment added, opening a two-year window for victims whose abuse took place outside the current statute to file a civil suit against their abuser.

“While all the recommendations are important,” said Representative Mark Rozzi. “the window has been the most important to past victims of child sex abuse.”

But some Senate leaders are against the window. Senate President pro tempore Joe Scarnati said in a news release, the window is unconstitutional, “In light of Pennsylvania’s remedies clause in our Constitution, which prohibits a retroactive change to civil and criminal statute of limitations.”

“I can’t speak to whether the window’s going to be there,” said Senator Jay Costa. “But, what is being proposed right now is a different type of a window.”

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says lawmakers are now discussing a fund, where the diocese would put money in, and create a tribunal to hear people’s claims.

“I fully support the choice of a compensation fund for victims,” said Representative Rozzi. “I want to be clear on that. But, want to be clear. At the end of the day, we must have a window in this legislation.”

Senator costa is now urging for compromise, with the clock ticking ever closer to midnight.

“I’m not a hundred percent confident that it will be finished by the time we finish our work,” said Senator Costa.

If the bill is not passed by the end of this session, Representative Rozzi says he fully plans to reintroduce that civil window next year.

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