Clergy abuse survivors urge state Senate to return and vote on lawsuit bill

Tribune Review

October 31, 2018

By Deb Erdley

Clergy sexual abuse survivors say they have the votes to pass a state bill establishing a window for older victims to sue their abusers, and they’re challenging the Pennsylvania Senate to return to Harrisburg for a vote.

“We have the votes. The votes are there to pass SB 261 as it stands,” said Ryan O’Connor. “We just need the majority to allow it to come to a vote.”

O’Connor, 47, of Verona, who has written of his abuse as a child at the hands of a parish priest in Johnstown, is traveling the state with Jim Van Sickle, another survivor who serves as Survivor Advocacy Coordinator for Stop Child Predator, a national nonprofit group.

“There is a lot of support in the Senate for this bill, and we’re asking that they return and vote on it,” Van sickle said.

Van Sickle and O’Connor spoke in Greensburg on Tuesday after making previous appearances in Lancaster, Allentown, Reading, Ebensburg, Scranton and Pittsburgh.

The bill that passed the state House by an overwhelming margin in September stalled in the Senate last month when Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, refused to bring it to the floor for a vote.

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