Two years before the massive Pennsylvania clergy sexual abuse scandal made international headlines, PA Representative Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from Berks County, told the harrowing story of how he was raped in a shower by a priest at age 13. Rozzi never told anyone what had happened to him until many years later, when a friend who was also the victim of abuse by the same priest committed suicide. His friend’s death shook Rozzi, and he pledged to speak up and speak out about what had happened to them both in memory of his friend. He felt that if he raised awareness about sexual abuse issues within the church and other institutions, he might save lives.
Sexual Abuse Reform Bill Passed in House But Awaits Senate Vote
Rozzi has been on the frontlines in the recent debates over changing the state’s laws to allow victims to pursue legal actions against their perpetrators even decades after the actual events. So far Rozzi and his supporters have not succeeded in pushing through a bill that would open a two-year window for claims of any age to have their day in court, but recent events may change all that.
The bill that would open the window for claims passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last month and now awaits Senate review. There are only a few days left in this term for voting on the bill in Harrisburg, so Representative Rozzi of Berks County and his supporters have ramped up the pressure. That’s what brought Rozzi to Doylestown, PA in Bucks County this week. He wants to tell people the story of how he was victimized by a priest and remind them how important holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes is to him and to those who are not so lucky, no matter how old their claims might be.