Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PA statute of limitations bill back on Senate floor

Kody Leibowitz
WJAC News - Johnstown,PA
June 29, 2016

Changes to the statute of limitations bill are now facing the state senate after passing through another committee.

But this bill comes with some speculation as to what happens next.

As currently amended, House Bill 1947 would still abolish the criminal statute of limitations prospectively, meaning a future victim of child sex abuse could go after criminal charges. The amendment passed Tuesday morning in a state senate committee.

The bill would also extend the civil statute of limitations to the age of 50 from age 30 for future victims.

Senators voted 9-4 to amend the statute of limitations bill, which took out retroactivity for civil lawsuits due to constitutionality concerns. Advocates and victims of sex abuse continue to say this bill doesn't do enough and have asked for retroactivity to let the courts decide, while insurance and catholic church lobbyists said the provision would be unconstitutional.

But some changes comes with initial confusion. Future victims would have an unlimited time to go after civil damages against the person(s) who committed the crime, person(s) who conspired and person(s) who knew that child sex abuse happened and failed to prevent the crime from happening again by not contacting police.

There will be no action against "any individual who was aware that a report of the childhood sexual abuse had already been made by another individual or entity to law enforcement officials or to a state or county child protective services agency", the bill reads.

According to Senator John Rafferty's office, an organization, non-profit, church or school would not fall under that section, so a victim and survivor of child sex abuse would have only until age 50 to file a lawsuit against that entity.

Sen. Rafferty, R-Collegeville, voted against this amendment.

The bill currently sits in the Senate.

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