Central PA's LGBT News Source

SHOULD PA's SENATE RECONSIDER?

Survivor Stand Up rally want sexual abuse law

Posted

About 80 people gathered on the steps under the Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda Wed., Oct. 24 urging the State Senate to reconsider S.B. 261.

The controversial bill:

  • Eliminates all criminal statutes of limitations on future child sexual abuse cases
  • extends the deadline for civil cases against perpetrators and those who supervise them to age 50
  • creates a new, retroactive component permitting past victims who are timed-out of the legal system at present a temporary, two-year window to file civil suits

In August, the House of Representative voted overwhelmingly, 173-21, to pass the bill.

Last week, the State Senate could not bring the bill up for a floor vote. There was no agreement on the provisions of the bill.

An amendment sought by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the lobbying entity representing the Catholic Church, and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania would have eliminated abuse survivors from taking legal action against a diocese.

Legal action against a diocese is different than legal action against a priest accused of sexual abuse. Most of the priests named in a recent Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report are dead and/or the deadline to bring legal action has expired. Against that background of facts, some advocates want S.B. 261 to include the ability of abusers to bring legal action against the diocese in which the accused priests worked.

Survivors and others involved in the public debate have urged the Senate to reconsider S.B. 261 before year’s end.

Media materials circulated before the event cite that:

  • Nearly 63% of women, and nearly 24% of men, experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Every eight minutes, Child Protective Services agencies substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse - that is an average of 63,000 children each year.
  • Sexual violence has long-term effects that can often delay disclosure and healing. At most, 1/3 disclose as children and another 1/3 never disclose. Studies show the average age to disclosure is 52.