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Senate revives bill on child sex abuse prosecution, lawsuits

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 1, 2017 3:58 PM
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(Harrisburg) --The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday revived legislation to lift time limits on when some perpetrators of child sexual abuse can be sued by their victims and prosecuted by authorities, although a major disagreement with the House could remain.

The Senate voted unanimously for legislation that was propelled by fresh Roman Catholic Church scandals in Pennsylvania. Identical legislation passed by the Senate died last year amid a disagreement with the House over restoring the ability of child victims to sue for damages if they are now older than the current legal age limit of 30.

House members unveiled two competing bills earlier this week, including one by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who has told of his own victimization as a child by a Roman Catholic priest. A spokesman for House Republican majority leaders said they are committed to getting the legislation on the subject to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

"We plan to work with the members of the Senate and members of the House to get a strong bill with a strong message to victims to the governor's desk," House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin said.

Pressed by Rozzi, the House last year backed a bill that restored the ability of all victims to sue, regardless of age, despite opposition from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, which represents for-profit insurers.

The Senate rejected that provision after some senators insisted that retroactively restoring the right to sue conflicts with Pennsylvania's constitutional case law.

Other provisions in the Senate bill include removing any time limit for a future victim or a victim who is not yet 30 to sue the perpetrator, a co-conspirator or someone who knew of the abuse but failed to report it to authorities.

The Senate bill also would raise the age limit from 30 to 50 for a victim to sue an organization, such as a church or a school, and it would eliminate the statute of limitations in criminal prosecutions.

An earlier story is below:

The Pennsylvania Senate is reviving legislation to lift time limits for some perpetrators of child sexual abuse to be sued by their victims and prosecuted by authorities. 

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday on legislation that was propelled by fresh Roman Catholic Church scandals in Pennsylvania.

Identical legislation died last year amid a disagreement with the House over restoring the ability of child victims to sue for damages if they're now older than the current legal age limit of 30.

The House had backed a bill that restored that ability for all victims.

The Senate did not.

Still, the Senate bill would remove any time limit for a future victim or a victim who is under 30 to sue the perpetrator.

It also would eliminate the statute of limitations in criminal prosecutions.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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