(HARRISBURG) – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) issued the following statement on Senate passage of the Statute of Limitations Child Sexual Abuse Reform Package. Today, the Senate approved four bills that will address the four recommendations of the 40th grand jury report. These bills include House Bill 962 (Rozzi), House Bill 963 (Gregory), House Bill 1051 (Stephens) and House Bill 1171 (Toohil).
This package of bills will address all four recommendations of the grand jury:
- Eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children.
- Creates a two-year “civil window” for child sex abuse victims who couldn’t file lawsuits before.
- Clarifies the penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse.
- Prohibits “non-disclosure” agreements regarding cooperation with law enforcement.
“Today is unquestionably an historic day in Pennsylvania. The brave men and women who have come forward to shed light on child sexual abuse are no doubt courageous survivors who deserve our support. It is also crucial that we do all we can to prevent abuse from happening in the future.
“The package of bills passed today protects any future victims and would allow for a constitutionally sound civil window for past victims. By eliminating the criminal statute of limitations, we are addressing the severity of this crime and elevating child sexual abuse to the same prosecution level as murder.
“Throughout this long debate I have always said that any changes we make must be constitutional. I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for working together to pass this important package and especially to Senator Lisa Baker for working to strengthen the package by increasing counseling support for victims and further protecting college students from abuse. I also thank Representative Mark Rozzi and Representative Jim Gregory for coming to the table to develop strong legislation that helps victims and upholds the Constitution.”