“What was that!” exclaims state Rep. Rozzi after Senate Judiciary hearing

HARRISBURG, June 13 – After a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutionality of the retroactive component of House Bill 1947, Rep. Mark Rozzi rejoined a large group of abuse survivors and advocates who had demonstrated on the Capitol steps earlier.

Rozzi called for immediate action on House Bill 1947, the statutes of limitation reform bill that overwhelming passed the House in April. “These perpetrators, and these institutions that have protected these pedophiles, have always gotten a free pass,” Rozzi said. 

According to Rozzi, state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, allowed Attorney General Kathleen Kane to address the committee, after making his opening remarks noting that committee members were “acutely aware of the facts of the child abuse that had occurred.”

Rozzi said four of the five witnesses were invited to testify against the constitutionality of H.B. 1947, along with the opinions submitted by six other sources. In contrast, he said Greenleaf allowed only one witness, Professor Marci Hamilton, in support of the bill, and one written submission by Professor Kermit Roosevelt. Both are affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.    

“I’ve done this for almost three decades and I can tell you, I have never been asked to testify on constitutionality when it didn’t serve political ends,” Hamilton said. “I learned long ago to ask the question, ‘Is this hearing about saving the bill or killing the bill?’ The hearing was stacked today. It was the first time in my career I have ever been refused information about who else would be testifying. It is the first time we did not share testimony before we sat down because sometimes our elected officials actually care about the constitution and actually review the testimony before it is given.”

Rozzi said he was incredulous that his formal request to allow Lawrence Lewis, the distinguished former state solicitor of Delaware to testify, was ignored. Lewis testified before Delaware’s House, State and Joint Committees on Senate Bill 29, to revive the rights of victims of child sex abuse to sue for civil damages. The two-year window was upheld in two challenges in Delaware’s Supreme Court to which Lewis submitted the amicus briefs.

Rozzi also questioned why the attorney general’s solicitor, Bruce Castor, was invited to testify as a constitutional law expert on the specific issue of retroactivity, in light of the fact that the Office of Attorney General could eventually end up defending the law if it passed.

House Bill 1947 would eliminate the criminal statutes of limitation for child sex abuse, extend the civil statutes of limitation until the victim reaches age 50 and allow adult victims of child sex abuse a permanent extension to file civil claims up to age 50.   

“I can tell you right now, I will never be bought and sold in this commonwealth,” Rozzi said during the post-hearing rally. “I will do the right things for the people of this commonwealth, not lobbyists or special interest groups or pedophiles and the institutions that protect them.

“Speaking for all the victims, enough is enough,” he said. “The time is now. We have truly waited for the opportunity to expose the truth and get justice. Victims have waited long enough. It is time to take a vote on this bill.”