Pennsylvania Republican Leadership Spits in the Eyes of Child Sex Abuse Victims with Faux Justice in New Proposal

By MARCI A. HAMILTON, October 13, 2018

The 2018 Pennsylvania Attorney General’s grand jury report on the six Pennsylvania dioceses not yet investigated for clergy sex abuse looked like it could move mountains at first. The account of over 300 priests and over 1000 victims certainly has garnered worldwide attention and empathy for the victims and their families. Republican leadership, however, with few days left in the legislative calendar has proved incapable of such empathy.

Instead, Senators Scarnati and Corman have produced a cynical “tribunal” that gives bishops and insurance companies what they love most: immunity from discovery. This is faux justice is an insult to every survivor in the state. It is also every child-molesting cleric’s best friend as it keeps their wrongdoing secret and every enabling institution’s best friend as it keeps their wrongdoing secret.

Survivors and advocates have been demanding a “window” since 2005 when the Philadelphia District Attorney released the first comprehensive Grand Jury Report on the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A “window” occurs when lawmakers lift the civil statute of limitations for a set period of time, e.g., Delaware suspended the civil SOL from 2007 to 2009. That gives the victims of the past a chance at justice through the courts. Grand jury reports on systemic child sex abuse are very important in that they introduce to the public the big picture of abuse, suffering and cost, and cover up.

But they are at best only lists of cases. The 886-page 2018 Report does not go into depth on any one case; only individual criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits would produce more information. Due to short criminal SOLs in the state, there were only two priests charged out of the entire voluminous report. It is unconstitutional to revive an expired criminal SOL, making civil lawsuits the only answer for the vast majority of victims. That leads to the need for  . . . 

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