Former Pa. Legislator Breaks Years of Silence on His Own Sexual Abuse
By Ivey DeJesus
September 24, 2018
For years, the effort to reform the Pennsylvania statute of limitations has been chiefly led by Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat who at the age of 13 was sexually abused by his Diocese of Allentown priest.
Rozzi has become the poster face for adult victims who were abused as children.
On Monday, his fraternity grew by at least one.
Bill Wachob, a Democrat who between 1978 and 1984 served in the House, on Monday made public his own abuse.
Wachob, who now lives in La Jolla, Calif., calls himself "collateral damage" to the clergy sex abuse crisis. He said his abuser - an older and bigger neighbor - was himself being abused by a priest.
"Even though I was not directly abused by the priest, the actions of the priest had a ripple effect and I became collateral damage as a result of the priests' behavior. At such a young age, I was filled with fear knowing that the priest himself was ultimately responsible for the abuse I endured."
The average age for victims to disclose childhood sexual abuse is 52. With two exceptions, none of the cases detailed in the grand jury report can be prosecuted as the statute of limitations have expired.
Wachob broke his silence before a Capitol Rotunda packed with lawmakers and victims ahead of Monday's House vote on reform amendments to a statute of limitations reform bill.
"It is widely known that many abusers were abused themselves," he said. "This was the case with the person who abused me. In fact, he would justify his abusive behavior toward me by continually assuring me that he wasn't doing anything wrong because the priest was doing the same thing to him."
Wachob said his abuse went on for years, and at times in the disguise of strip poker or some other ruse.
Rozzi was brutally raped in the shower more than 30 years ago by the late , the late Father Edward Graff, among the 301 predator priests identified by the grand jury report.
Wachob has kept his silence about his abuse up until now and has only recently realized the destructive and lasting effects that come with child sexual abuse.
Wachob, who now is in campaign advertising production, urged the Legislature to pass a retroactive window that would allow time-barred victims to file civil suits in court.
"I am convinced that if no action is taken now and we just move forward with business as usual, there will be more victims, more broken families and more deaths," he said.
On Monday afternoon, the House by an overwhelming vote passed several amendments to SB261, including Rozzi's retroactive measures.