For many years, victims have been stepping up and speaking about the abuse that they experienced as children. In 2011, we read the gut-wrenching details of how Jerry Sandusky sexually abused his child victims.
The recent Grand Jury Report on sexual assault in the Catholic Church told us about the 300 priests who served in Pennsylvania’s dioceses.100 priests served in our valley and there is no question about the lifelong harm that they caused their victims.The victims named could not take action because the statute of limitations had expired.The PA’s statute of limitations on sexual assault kept them from taking legal action because they did not come forward early enough.
On October 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings in which victims spoke to their Senators and described their experiences as children and the harm that abuse continues to cause them.It was heart-breaking.Growing out of these hearings, the law was changed so that victims from now on will be able sue their perpetrators, including organizations that allow it to happen, up to the age of 55 years.That is the good news for the future child sexual abuse that occurs.
However, the PA Senate defeated the recommendation that allowed a two-year window in which victims from past abuse can sue and hold perpetrators accountable.The Catholic Church and Insurance Companies lobbied heavily against the two-year window.
The two-year window can become law, but only if it becomes an amendment to the PA Constitution, so stay tuned.We are expecting the Senate to pass a resolution to amend the constitution in the 2021-22 Legislative Session and for the voters to approve it at the polls afterwards.Your advocates at Transitions and throughout the State will continue to advocate for the chance for survivors of the Sandusky abuse, the Catholic priest abuse and countless other child victims allowing them to have their day in court.It took courage for them to speak up, they deserve a chance.Victims should know that we will continue to advocate for them.