On Friday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation that would make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their alleged abusers by waiving the state's 2-year statue of limitations on the crime.
Fox News reports, the Pennsylvania House voted 161-40 on a state constitutional amendment to waive the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases that now goes to the state Senate for a vote and then would go to voters in November. The House also passed a measure in a 134-67 vote to make the change through legislation that would only need the Senate's vote of approval and governor's signature to go into law.
House Speaker Mark Rozzi, a Democrat, and Representative Jim Gregory, a Republican, were proponents of the amendment.
Speaking to victims of child sexual abuse, Gregory said, "I want to tell you that I am sorry and that I pray that you will have what you need to heal."
"It should not have taken this long," he added.
Representative Tim Bonner said, "Child molesters are like vampires: They just keep coming back to their victims time and time again. So many children, so much evil, so many nightmares."
Fox News reports that the bill gained support after "a series of revelations regarding sexual abuse of children in the state by Roman Catholic clergy" and Speaker Rozzi said he "was molested by a now-deceased parish priest."
Rozzi said of the proposals going to the state Senate, "If the Senate's not going to take it up, we might as well stop half the business we do in the House."
On Friday, some Republicans noted that the bills could face legal challenges if passed, especially regarding the statute of limitations going into effect retroactively and how it could affect institutions such as public schools. "There were predictions that lawsuits against public schools will prove costly to taxpayers," reports Fox.
Representative Eric Davanzo said, "I want justice for the victims, but it’s got to fall on the people that committed these crimes."
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