Rozzi: Statute of limitations reform without a ‘window to justice’ is unacceptable

HARRISBURG, Oct. 12 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, today called a recent proposal from Senate leaders on statute of limitations reform “unacceptable” and said that a “window to justice” is essential for abuse victims.

“Victims want their day in court. They want to expose predators and those who covered up crimes,” Rozzi said. “They want to protect other children from being harmed. They want a path to justice and healing, and the window is the only way to achieve that.”

Last month, the House overwhelmingly passed Rozzi’s “#WindowtoJustice” amendment to S.B. 261, which incorporated the key recommendation from four Grand Jury investigations of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania – the 2005 and 2011 reports on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the 2016 report on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, and the August 2018 report on six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

The window has been fiercely opposed by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.

The bill was returned to the Senate, where Republican leaders have opposed the window in the past and offered an alternative proposal which featured “troubling” concepts, including a court process for victims to place perpetrators on a public registry and a one-year period of time for victims to access a compensation fund voluntarily set up by organizations via a tribunal.

That proposal does not contain the all-important two-year window, which victims have spent 14 years fighting for, Rozzi said.

Rozzi outlined some issues that he’s willing to compromise on, but said the final product must have a window. With only three days left in session, Rozzi said he expects to see new draft language before Monday.

“There’s still time to do the right thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, reform must include a window to justice.”

The Senate is expected to vote on S.B. 261 next week.

On Monday, advocates will read aloud the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury report, which revealed widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, as well as efforts by the church to conceal the abuse.

The reading of the report will begin at 9 a.m. in the Senate hallway, off the main Rotunda. Advocates will also stand as “sentinels” outside of senators’ offices.

Rozzi’s news conference can also be viewed on his Facebook page.