According to recent media reports, powerful lobbyists in the Pennsylvania state legislature may have blocked the passage of a bill extending the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse.
Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal Triggers Call for Legal Reform
Following the now infamous report released this summer detailing more than a thousand incidents of child sexual abuse by clergyman in dioceses across the state of Pennsylvania, victims and other advocates gathered to change the laws governing how we prosecute sexual abuse in the state. Since the incident extended back in some cases for several decades, many of the victims of clergy abuse were not able to bring litigation against their perpetrators because of the current statute of limitations. Victims, advocates, and even a Pennsylvania legislator who was himself a victim of clergy sexual abuse as a teenager tried to push through a new bill that would extend the statute of limitations for a two year period, allowing any victims to bring cases against the perpetrators in court.
Lobby May Have Been Behind Stalled Child Sexual Abuse Bill
In August the bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate. Now the media is suggesting that perhaps a powerful lobby within the PA state government are responsible for the bill’s not having been voted on by the Senate before the close of this latest session. The lobbyists represent the Catholic church and its insurance companies, which could mean millions of dollars in damages awarded against the Church. The lobbyists contend the church should not be held financially accountable for priest abuse or its cover-up.
TIme will tell who wins this battle. But one thing is for sure: it’s not over by any stretch of the imagination. Reporters expect the fight to continue when the bill is resurrected in some form in a future session of the State Congress.