HARRISBURG, September 24, 2018 – Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Brookline) today urged his legislative colleagues to pass legislation that would expand the state’s statute of limitations, enabling more child sexual abuse victims to seek justice.
“Considering the harrowing issues children must deal with in these abuse cases, we must all understand that these civil and criminal filing limitations are nothing but a systemic means to deny justice and shield abusers,” Fontana said. “There is no limit to how much these kids have suffered. There should also be no limit to the long arm of the law’s reach in these cases.”
Currently, the statute of limitations law in Pennsylvania allows victims of child sex abuse to come forward with criminal allegations until they are 50-years-old. The age cutoff for filing civil claims is 30.
Speaking following a victims’ rights rally today at the Capitol, Fontana said he supports legislation (Senate Bill 261) that would end the statute of limitation on filing future charges against child sex abusers and raise the age threshold for filing civil suits to 50. Fontana said he also supports a separate bill that would open a two-year “window” so victims of past abuse — like the thousand in the recent attorney general’s report — may file claims retroactively.
The Brookline lawmaker said Senate Bill 261, which was unanimously approved by the Senate, would need to be approved by the House of Representatives in the weeks ahead. Otherwise, the process would go back to square one and the legislation would need to be reintroduced when the new two-year legislative session begins in January.
“The grand jury report opened our eyes,” Fontana said. “Now our political leadership in Harrisburg must open their ears and hear the pleas for justice.”
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