Rozzi issues statement on special session to provide justice to survivors of childhood sexual abuse

HARRISBURG, Jan. 6 – Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi issued the following statement upon Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement of a special session to provide justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse:

Today, Governor Tom Wolf issued a proclamation ordering a special session of the General Assembly to consider a constitutional amendment providing for relief to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. For that, and on behalf of victims throughout the Commonwealth, I say to Governor Wolf: thank you.

As you know, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I know firsthand the trauma that comes with surviving such a vicious attack. I have childhood friends who initially survived their assault only to succumb to the trauma years later and to take their own lives.

There is an epidemic of sexual abuse against children in this Commonwealth, throughout this nation, and throughout the world. I came to Harrisburg with one purpose: to see that survivors of childhood sexual assault in Pennsylvania receive the justice that they deserve.

For the last 10 years I have fought this battle as a rank-and-file member. Promises have been made. Hope has been raised. But time after time, at the end of the day, for whatever reason, justice has been denied.

Throughout this fight I have met some of the bravest people willing to share their deeply personal and traumatic stories with the hope that by sharing their story, others will understand. One of the bravest people I’ve met is my good friend Representative Jim Gregory.

Representative Gregory, himself a survivor, is a champion of victims and is the author of the constitutional amendment that this special session has been called for. This amendment must be passed without delay. How many victims of childhood sexual assault must take their lives before we give them access to the treatment that they desperately need and deserve?

We are on a tight timeline. Pursuant to our constitution, this amendment must pass both the House and the Senate by the first week of February to be placed on the May primary ballot. If we are late, we risk this life saving amendment not being placed on the ballot until the November General Election. 

With that in mind, let me be clear: As long as I am the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the House will consider no other legislation until the General Assembly passes the language of Representative Gregory’s constitutional amendment.

I am confident this can and will be done. While we may not always agree on everything, our Commonwealth is led by some truly remarkable leaders.

On August 31, 2022, Governor Wolf announced an agreement with then Senate Republican Leader Kim Ward, who is now Pennsylvania’s first female President pro tempore of the Senate, then House Republican Leader Kerry Benninghoff, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa and House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, to make the passage of this constitutional amendment a priority for the 2023 session.

My friends, it is now 2023. We’ve talked the talk – now it’s time to walk the walk, together, one last time, for the victims of childhood sexual abuse.