Burns stands with child sex abuse victims, votes for justice

Burns and allies push through partisanship, pass constitutional amendment to open window of justice for victims of childhood sexual assault

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – Standing firm in his support for victims of childhood sexual assault, state Rep. Frank Burns today voted to open a window of justice for victims and to hold abusers accountable for their actions, despite partisan attempts to derail a vote.

“Today was a long time coming. For years I have supported my friend state Rep. Mark Rozzi’s quest to open a window of justice for people who have suffered these horrific crimes against them,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “We have held hearings not just in Harrisburg, but at home in Cambria County. We have introduced legislation, constitutional amendments, and have done everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront – and to get victims the justice they deserve.”

In a special session this week the state House voted to pass legislation that would deliver justice to survivors of childhood sexual abuse by opening a two-year window in which they could sue their abusers, where those lawsuits would otherwise be beyond the statute of limitations. One bill will amend the constitution -- if voters approve the ballot question to do so -- while the other would set the two-year window of justice in law. The bill to amend the constitution and open the two-year window had previously passed through the state House and Senate, but not placed on the ballot for Pennsylvanians to vote on due to an error by the Wolf administration.

“After the grand jury report revealed the devastating abuse throughout the Altoona Johnstown Diocese, many victims contacted me including friends and classmates at Bishop McCort,” Burns said. “As a leader in our community I partnered with Representative Rozzi to hold press conferences and townhall meetings to give victims a voice.”

The bills that passed the House today now go to the state Senate for consideration. Burns and other legislators hope that the Senate will swiftly pass the measures to bring it before the voters as quickly as possible.

“This issue, which has too often been swept under the rug, has destroyed families, and has destroyed lives. It has impacted every community in our commonwealth – including our own,” Burns said. “But our quest to bring justice to their abusers has too often been derailed by petty politics, grudges, and special interests. Today we sent a message: To victims, that we support you; to the abusers, that justice is coming for you; and to the state Senate, to stop playing games and give victims the justice they deserve.”