HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a comprehensive package of bills today to support survivors of sexual abuse, including legislation to reform the statute of limitations to give survivors more time to come forward, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), who supported the bills.
The package of legislation addresses all of the recommendations of a grand jury investigation that was released to the public last year. The bills are designed to ensure victims are supported and all perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are held responsible for their heinous actions, Bartolotta said.
“The survivors of these appalling and sickening crimes deserve a chance to come forward on their own terms and stand up to their abusers in court. Addressing all four of the grand jury recommendations finally gives them that opportunity,” Bartolotta said. “My priority has always been to provide a legal process that puts all victims on equal footing and gives them a true path to justice. I am thankful that we were able to reach a resolution that achieves those goals and helps more victims find a sense of peace and healing.”
The bills include:
- House Bill 962, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of a child, as well as associated crimes such as human trafficking. The bill also extends the deadline for civil actions from age 30 to age 55.
- House Bill 963, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window of time for retroactive lawsuits for victims whose statute of limitations has already expired. The legislation addresses concerns lawmakers raised last year about whether the two-year window was unconstitutional.
- House Bill 1051, which clarifies mandatory reporting standards for suspected cases of abuse and increases penalties for mandated reporters who continue to fail to report suspected child abuse.
- House Bill 1171, which ensures survivors who sign non-disclosure statements are not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement regarding their abuse.
Bartolotta said the bills are a culmination of a years-long effort to create effective and permanent laws to ensure perpetrators of sexual offenses against young people are held accountable by the legal system.
The Senate passed a number of similar measures last year, including lifting the statute of limitations for all civil and criminal cases of child sex abuse.
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