Rozzi: Statue of limitations shouldn’t protect perpetrators uncovered in new grand jury report

TEMPLE, March 1 – In response to today’s announcement by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, is again calling on the chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and leadership in the General Assembly to move statute of limitation reform legislation that was reintroduced almost one year ago.

At a news conference today, Kane released grand jury findings that revealed, over a period of four decades, hundreds of children were sexually abused by priests and religious leaders in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Despite overwhelming evidence of the abuse, no charges could be filed due to expiration of time limits set by law. As children, most victims did not have the wherewithal to come forward. For those who did, the pervasive cover-up by the archdiocese, in collusion at times with law enforcement and prosecutors, prevented claims from being filed on a timely basis. 

"The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese tragedy is no different than what happened in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and many other cities and towns across the country," Rozzi said. "We know the epidemic of child sex abuse is not just a Catholic problem, but let’s be clear. The lobbyists against reform bills have institutional risk management, as opposed to the welfare of children, as their main priority and they have the ear of some of my colleagues." 

In light of these findings, Rozzi is asking his colleagues to contact Judiciary Committee Chairmen Ronald Marsico and Joseph Petrarca to call up in committee House Bill 655, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases of child sex abuse, and House Bill 951, which would create a two-year window for past victims to have the opportunity to file civil suits. These same recommendations were made in the 2005 and 2011 Philadelphia Archdiocese grand jury reports.

"The continued systematic cover-up that has allowed these depraved perpetrators of children to avoid justice is nothing short of sickening," Rozzi said. "Attorney General Kane got this right when she said that the trauma of child sex abuse can never be understood nor overstated."