Rozzi announces historic passage of bills to bring justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse
HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi announced the historic passage of two bills that would help bring justice to survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
“For years, I’ve been fighting relentlessly for victims of childhood sexual abuse. During that time, we’ve seen countless examples of the hidden epidemic of child sexual abuse and the coverup by institutions, as more and more survivors shared their stories,” said Rozzi, D-Berks. “We could have and should have reformed the statute of limitations years ago, but we’re finally making progress today. This has been a long road that required compromise, given the political dynamic in Pennsylvania. But finally, victims are closer to being guaranteed the ability to seek justice.”
House Bill 962, introduced by Rozzi, passed the Senate Wednesday. The bill would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, extend the civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse until the victim reaches age 55, and waive the sovereign and governmental immunity related to childhood sexual abuse.
The bill was amended in the Senate and will return to the House for a concurrence vote.
The Senate also on Wednesday passed H.B. 963, a constitutional amendment that would open a retroactive two-year window so that victims who have aged out of the current statute could sue for damages. If the bill passes the House and Senate again in the next legislative session, the amendment could be put before voters on the ballot as early as spring 2021.
“I remain committed to fighting for the window to justice. While a constitutional amendment was not my preferred path, it is the best path to move this legislation forward to help adult victims of childhood sexual abuse,” Rozzi said. “Meanwhile, today’s victims will be able to access remedies for the harm done to them. Amending the constitution will close the debate over the retroactive provision. House and Senate leaders have pledged to get the bill on public referendum as one of the first orders of business in 2021. I will continue to work and fight to make sure this happens.”
Rozzi was the first legislator to get a comprehensive statute of limitations reform bill passed in the House in 2016 and 2018, but those previous efforts were stymied in the Senate. This session, Rozzi worked with House and Senate leadership to get the bills nearing the finish line.