HARRISBURG – The senate has approved a comprehensive package of bills to support survivors of sexual abuse, including legislation to reform the statute of limitations to give survivors a retroactive two-year civil window to file claims, according to Senator Wayne Langerholc Jr., (R-35) who strongly supported the bills.
During remarks on the senate floor, Langerholc said his district was “ground zero for clergy sex abuse” and urged his colleagues “to act on truly historic reforms for victims that will reflect all four of the recommendations of a grand jury report released to the public last year,” opining that this legislation was clearly constitutional.
“We are here to do the right thing for the victims,” Langerholc said. “Nothing will bring immediate justice, but we can build a solid foundation of action to enable every Pennsylvanian to vote on this legislation and ensure that it meets constitutional standards.”
The bills are designed to ensure victims are supported and all perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are held responsible for their heinous actions, Langerholc said.
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.
- 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.
The bills are a culmination of years of effort to create effective and permanent laws to ensure perpetrators of sexual offenses against young people are held accountable by the legal system.