Pennsylvania Legislature Ignores Chance to Afford Justice for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
For immediate release, October 18 2018
Last night, the Pennsylvania State Senate had a chance to make a real difference for survivors of sexual abuse. Instead, they kicked the can down the road and out of sight.
In choosing not to vote on Senate Bill 261, which would have given victims of sexual abuse until the age of 50 to seek restitution, the Pennsylvania State Senate decided that protecting institutions was preferable to ensuring accountability from those institutions. Because so many survivors of sexual abuse were hurt as children, they often do not come forward with their experiences until many years later. When they do come forward, if they are barred from seeking justice for the abuse they suffered it can be like experiencing the trauma all over again.
The simple fact is that statutes of limitations only protect wrongdoers. A paranoid fear of frivolous lawsuits should not prevent the kind of reform that allows survivors to seek the justice they deserve, especially since cases of false reporting of sexual violence are extremely low. It is disappointing that in a state where a grand jury report just showed in harrowing detail the extent and effects of institutional abuse, that the State Senate would fail to act on a bill that could have mitigated some of those effects.
We are grateful to State Rep. Mark Rozzi and commend his efforts in advancing this much-needed reform. We hope that the Pennsylvania Senate will recognize the mistake made last night and move quickly to correct it.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)