Legislative support waning for bill giving adults more time to sue for childhood sex abuse

Morning Call

July 2, 2018

By Steve Esack

Harrisburg – For more than two years, adults scarred by the memory of child sex abuse have sought personal and legal salvation in a pending state grand jury report about sexual misconduct and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania.

They believed that the report’s publication — now delayed by the state Supreme Court — would galvanize lawmakers to pass a bill letting them have their day in civil court, too.

The goal is for the Legislature to pass a bill that will change how courts treat child sex abuse claims. They want the House and Senate to pass a bill that would lift the legal prohibition preventing adults 31 and older from retroactively suing their alleged abusers and enablers who didn’t report the crimes to authorities.

But now support for retroactive lawsuits could be waning, according to the legislation’s prime sponsor, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who says he was abused as a youth by a Catholic priest.

Rozzi said House Speaker Mike Turzai has told him he no longer supports the legislation. Turzai did in 2016, when it passed the Republican-controlled House and then failed in the GOP-led Senate, where a majority of lawmakers viewed retroactive lawsuits as unconstitutional.

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