HB 951, which will provide a 'window to justice' for PA survivors of child sexual abuse, stalls again in the State Senate
On Monday, May 10th, SNAP hosted a press conference on the steps of the Capitol building in Harrisburg. Survivors and advocates were again present, waiting for HB 951 to run on the floor of the Senate for a full vote. The bill will provide victims of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania with the opportunity to seek justice in the civil courts.
At the press conference, many survivors and advocates took to the podium, calling on Senate majority leader Kim Ward to bring this bill for a vote. The proposed legislation has now been listed four times on the Senate calendar. SNAP was well represented at the press conference. Reading leader Mary McHale cited the numerous times she and her fellow victims and advocates have stood on the Capitol steps and asked for justice. SNAP Communication Manager Michael McDonnell and SNAP board member Shaun Dougherty were also present, as well as many other members of the victims' group. Mary, Michael and Shaun are all survivors of Catholic clergy abuse in the state. Child USA and PCAR (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape), and two of the Fortney sisters participated in the rally as well.
Window legislation provides survivors with an opportunity to experience justice and closure. Their horrific experiences also inform communities and institutions about how these crimes occur and how they are concealed. Many new victims come forward to identify previously unknown predators when a 'window to justice' is opened. It has happened in other states that have introduced civil windows. The information obtained helps survivors to heal and protects today's children.
Sadly, the bill was not brought forward on Monday. Instead, it remained on the Senate calendar and is now listed for May 24th. We want Pennsylvania victims to have their day in court and for communities to be aware of accused perpetrators in their midst. We hope that legislators in the Senate urge the Majority leader to run HB 951 and complete the important work of bringing healing, justice, and protection to the state. We urge these elected officials not to continue to protect child predators and the institutions that enabled them. We will continue to show up until the job is done.