Window for sex-abuse claims could open after all

Sharon Herald

By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent

HARRISBURG – A push to allow victims of clergy sex abuse the right to sue for damages in old cases is barreling toward a vote, with support from key state officials.

The House last spring opened a window allowing victims of old sex crimes to sue for damages. The window was snapped closed by the Senate, which voted only to extend the statute of limitations on those cases moving forward.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County, who has pushed to allow victims to seek justice against their molesters and church leaders who’ve covered up the crimes, said he believes House lawmakers will revive the retroactivity clause, giving the Senate another chance to pass it this fall.

“This is not just a Catholic clergy problem,” Rozzi said at a Capitol press conference Tuesday. “But the church has become the face of institutional wrongdoing.”

The effort is being renewed about six months after a grand jury examining the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese revealed sex abuse allegations involving more than 50 priests from the 1940s through the 1990s, with a concerted effort by church leaders to shield the priests from prosecution.

Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane called for a rewrite of the statute of limitations law based on the Altoona-Johnstown revelations.

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