Senators returned to the state capitol today for one last session day.
But they were greeted by sexual abuse survivors pushing them to pass a bill on the statute of limitations.
Senators were only scheduled to vote on leadership positions today and not move any bills. Survivors were in the Senate halls throughout the day, hoping to change their minds.
“These pedophiles need to be outed. Victims need to have their day in court,” said Carolyn Fortney, victim’s advocate.
Five of the Fortney sisters were sexually abused by the same priest when they were growing up in the Harrisburg Diocese. On Wednesday, they stood in the halls of the capitol as Senators returned for their final day of session.
“I like to think there’s always hope that somebody would be the champion and lead the Senate to do the right thing,” said Patty Fortney-Julius, victim’s advocate.
The “right thing,” according to the Fortney sisters would be to pass Senate Bill 261. It would change the state’s statute of limitations law. It would also open a two-year civil window, allowing victims, whose abuse happened outside the current statute of limitations to sue their abuser.
“Do we expect it? No. But, we’re hopeful that it will happen. It could happen,” said Fortney-Julius.
The bill failed to reach the Senate floor last month. With the session coming to a close, the bill will have to be started on from scratch in the new year, unless the governor calls lawmakers back for a special session.
“I can call them back, but they don’t have to do anything,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “So, you really have to have some agreement before you do something like that. I’m not sure there’s an appetite in the senate to come back at this point.”
And as things stand, Senators are not scheduled to return to the capitol until the new session begins in January.