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Gov. Wolf Signs Three Bills to Protect Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sen. Schwank, Reps. Caltagirone, Rozzi Announce Nearly $1 Million State Investment to Improve Skyline Drive

(Jul 01, 2016)

HARRISBURG, July 1 – Historic Skyline Drive soon will be receiving needed upgrades thanks to a $969,298 Multimodal Transportation Fund grant approved today by the Commonwealth Financing Authority to reconstruct a 2.4-mile stretch of Skyline Drive in Alsace and Lower Alsace Townships and the city of Reading, according to Sen. Judy Schwank and Reps. Thomas Caltagirone and Mark Rozzi. All three state legislators worked together to strongly advocate for the grant's approval. According to the state legislators, Lower Alsace Township will receive the grant and will work with Alsace Township and the city to complete the project. As part of the reconstruction of Skyline Drive, road markings will be added to create shared pedestrian/bicyclist lanes and crosswalks added at key locations to improve safety. Stormwater facility upgrades will be installed to improve water runoff and limit potential water damage to the roadway in the future. "This project represents an important investment in improving one of Berks County’s most iconic roadways," Schwank said. "This effort is especially significant because it involves cooperation among three municipalities, incorporates multiple modes of transportation, and improves safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike." "Skyline Drive provides access to some of the most beautiful vistas in all of Pennsylvania, as well to our city’s most recognizable and historic landmark, the Read more


Rozzi Stands Up for Victims

(Jun 28, 2016)

In an interview with Pennsylvania Legislative Services Rep. Mark Rozzi talks about the vital importance of legislation to give victims of sexual abuse the power to decide to file charges against their alleged attackers when the victim is ready, not when the state decides it must be done. Rozzi is urging the Senate to act in favor of victim rights. Read more


Rozzi rallies for victims after Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

(Jun 14, 2016)

Still, advocates left the proceeding unhappy, complaining that the witness list was stacked with opponents of the bill. After the hearing ended, Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks), one of the most ardent backers of the House bill, approached Greenleaf during what appeared to be a testy exchange. Read more


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

(Jun 13, 2016)

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 Read more


Lawmakers consider raising age limits in child sex abuse lawsuits

(Jun 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Is retroactivity for civil lawsuits constitutional? It's a question state senators answered over the battle of the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. The house previously passed a bill in April making civil suits retroactive. The bill came out after the grand jury investigation for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The hearing lasted three hours Monday morning inside a packed Senate committee room. And the entire hearing was trying to answer one question: will passing a bill that allows civil lawsuits to be retroactive hold up legally? Read more


Statute of limitations on child sex abuse argued in Pa. Senate hearing

(Jun 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Attorney General Kathleen Kane was the first to testify at a Senate hearing on House Bill 1947, which extends the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. “I am here to speak on behalf of all of the children and all of the survivors of Pennsylvania,” Kane said and urged senators to vote for HB 1947. But in a strange moment, Kane’s hand-picked Solicitor General Bruce Castor was next to testify and said that 1947 is, in part, unconstitutional. There is a provision that would let victims sue abusers and institutions even though their statute of limitations has expired. He said lawmakers do not have the power to grant such retroactivity. Read more


Radio Times: Push to loosen the statute of limitations on Pa. child sex abuse cases

(Jun 03, 2016)

Recent clergy abuse scandals, along with high profile sexual abuse cases, including allegations against Bill Cosby, have drawn attention to the time restrictions the law places on those who want to bring charges against their alleged abusers. To help survivors, some lawmakers in Harrisburg are pushing to loosen the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases. We’ll be joined by one of them, Representative MARK ROZZI, a Democrat from Berks County, who says as a boy he was sexually abused by a priest, and we’ll talk with GEORGE FOSTER, a businessman who’s credited with helping to expose abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. Read more


Rozzi shines a Spotlight on statutes of limitation reform panel

(May 20, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi hosted a roundtable discussion this week with Phil Saviano, the real-life “Spotlight” whistleblower, to highlight the need for statutes of limitation reform efforts in Pennsylvania. “Speaking as a victim, Phil Saviano deserves credit for the countless hours of hard work and dedication to uncovering the sexual abuse occurring in Boston,” Rozzi said. “Spotlight didn’t make this event possible, Phil Saviano did. I don’t know if we would be here today without his hard work because what happened in Boston happened everywhere across the country. It is a proud day for us, because for so long we have been shut out and silenced, but when someone breaks through that barrier it creates hope for all of us.” At the roundtable, Saviano, whose story was recently featured in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight”, spoke about how it took considerable time and effort to expose the systematic abuse and cover-ups that were occurring in the Archdiocese of Boston and beyond. “At some point I realized the man that assaulted me as a kid had a very long career of molesting children in several parts of the country. I had a hard time grappling with that because I had just assumed he would be caught and thrown out of the priesthood and yet the exact opposite happened,” Saviano said. “Over the next couple of years, I learned there were at least seven bishops in four states that knew this priest was a child molester. Not only had he been caught over and Read more


Never-ending Penn State cover-up

(May 09, 2016)

Did Joe know? News accounts indicate that a Penn State insurer claimed “in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.” Apparently the victim depositions are under seal. What else is new? The biggest thing that jumps out to me is this allegation was in 1976. The Second Mile was founded in 1977. If true, Paterno knew an abuser was founding a charity for kids and it would be on the campus and facilities of Penn State University. The family’s response is predictable. “An allegation now about an alleged event 40 years ago, as represented by a single line in a court document regarding an insurance claim, with no corroborating evidence, does not change the facts. Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky.” Did Joe know? Who knows? But the pattern and practices of institutional-based abuse and cover-up is never-ending, with the way our statute of limitation laws protect pedophiles and the organizations that shield them. Read more


Altoona-Johnstown abuse changed minds

(May 09, 2016)

"They have a decision to make," said Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks), an abuse victim himself and the bill's fiercest advocate: Support the bill as it stands or, he warned, or "be seen as protecting pedophiles and the institutions that protect them." None of the senators - Republicans Stewart Greenleaf and John Rafferty, and Democrat Daylin Leach - would commit himself last week to supporting or opposing the bill. Greenleaf, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he would consider holding a hearing or drafting amendments within two weeks and that the measure could come before the full Senate next month. Read more


Rozzi announces $120,000 in fire department, EMS grants in 126th District

(Apr 20, 2016)

TEMPLE, April 20 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, announced today that eight fire and ambulance companies in his legislative district will receive more than $120,000 in state grants. The grants are from Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program and were awarded in February. In all, 2,538 grants were awarded statewide. The grants are funded partly by gaming revenue. “As a legislator, I understand the financial hardships some companies are facing,” Rozzi said. “It’s only right that we do what we can to give them the financial support they need to continue keeping our neighborhoods safe.” 126th Legislative District grant recipients include: • Lower Alsace Ambulance, $7,201; • Muhlenberg Area Ambulance, $7,201; • Community Volunteer Fire Company of Lower Alsace Township, $11,967; • Central Fire Co. #1 of Laureldale, $12,422; • Temple Fire Co. #1, $13,561; • City of Reading Pennsylvania Department of Fire and Rescue Services, $13,789; • Mount Penn Fire Company, $13,789; • Goodwill Fire Co. of Hyde Park, $13,789; • Exeter Township Volunteer Firefighters Association, 13,789; and • West Reading Fire Company #1, $13,789. Grants can be used toward repairing, building or renovating facilities. Grant money also can be applied toward the purchase of new equipment, training and certification of staff, or it may go to repay debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. The grant program is due to expire June 30, unless reaut Read more


Rozzi: A Chance for Justice

(Apr 14, 2016)

Pa. state Rep. Mark Rozzi speaks on the house floor regarding legislation that would dramatically alter Pennsylvania's outdated statute of limitations in cases of child sex abuse. (FULL SPEECH) Read more


Mark Rozzi on a personal journey: Abuse victim determined to change laws

(Apr 13, 2016)

His voice, though quivering, filled the cavernous chamber. Rep. Mark Rozzi didn't have to dig too deeply. The emotion had been welling in him - not for weeks - but years. Rozzi, who was abused by a priest at the age of 13, was determined not to fail. The legislation that could hold out some justice and recompense for hundreds if not thousands of victims like him was on the line. Read more


Pa. House votes to extend window for child sex-abuse claims

(Apr 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG - In a stunning shift, the House voted Tuesday to abolish the statute of limitations for child-sex-abuse crimes and expand the legal window for victims to file lawsuits against their abusers. The 180-15 vote marked a swift and groundbreaking development on an issue that advocates, particularly clergy sex-abuse victims, had sought for years. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its fate is unclear. If approved there, it could open the door for hundreds of victims who say the statute of limitations has prevented them from seeking justice. "You have given the children of this commonwealth hope," said Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks), an abuse victim, who sponsored the bill. Read more


Rozzi: We Want Justice

(Apr 12, 2016)

Pa. state Rep. Mark Rozzi speaks on the House floor about legislation that would dramatically alter Pennsylvania's outdated statute of limitations in cases of child sex abuse. Rozzi, a victim himself, called on his colleagues to give victims the chance at justice and to hold individuals and institutions accountable for these terrible crimes and cover-ups. The bill passed overwhelmingly shortly thereafter. Read more


Rozzi: Change Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse

(Apr 12, 2016)

Pa. state Rep. Mark Rozzi continues the fight for victims of child sex abuse. Rozzi introduced an amendment that would allow past victims of child sex abuse to bring civil lawsuits until the age of 50, something that is currently prohibited by current law. Read more


House passes statute of limitations overhaul

(Apr 12, 2016)

A major change to the state's statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases is headed to the state Senate, after receiving final approval from House lawmakers. By a vote of 180-15, the House passed a plan to erase the time limit on criminal child sex abuse cases going forward and let victims bring civil suits until their 50th birthday, an extension of 20 years. The measure would also allow victims to sue institutions that harbored their abusers. At one point during debate, members suggested delaying their vote to review constitutional concerns. The motion was vehemently rejected by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), who has made his own story of being sexually abused by a childhood priest central to his support of statute of limitations changes. "These victims have been through enough. They have been abused, they have been lied to, their stories have been covered up!" said Rozzi, shouting into the microphone on the House floor. "And there has been institution and public corruption that has denied them justice!" The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation have opposed the plan. Supporters received a jolt of urgency last month, with the release of a statewide grand jury report detailing a cover-up of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy at the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. Read more


PA House votes to extend statute of limitations in criminal and civil cases of child sex abuse

(Apr 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG — Last-minute attempts to postpone and stop a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse cases failed Tuesday in the House. And they failed by wide margins as a majority of Republican and Democratic lawmakers united behind a belief they had the power and duty to atone for the past and make a better future for victims of child sex abuse. The bill would eliminate a legal time limit on when child abusers can be prosecuted for future crimes, and would give victims of past abuse more time to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and any employers who might have enabled the abuse. Read more


House approves bill to reform child sex crimes laws; measure heads to Senate

(Apr 12, 2016)

Following a poignant debate on the House floor, Pennsylvania lawmakers by an overwhelming majority voted Tuesday to advance a measure that would allow a generation of victims of child sexual abuse to seek justice. After years of failed efforts by advocates to reform laws applying to child sex crimes, House lawmakers voted 180-15 to approve a bill that will — if approved by the Senate — eliminate criminal statute of limitations on future child sex abuse crimes and amend civil statutes. Under the bill, the criminal statutes applied child sex abuse crimes would fall under the same parameters applied to murder: The statutes would never expire. Read more


State bill advances to protect rights of child sexual-abuse victims

(Apr 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG — A House committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would eliminate the deadline for beginning criminal prosecutions in certain future cases of child sexual abuse and allow victims to bring civil lawsuits until they turn 50. Read more