Dem Ad Targets Mcgarrigle for Senate Failure to Vote on Abuse Bill
By Kathleen E. Carey
October 25, 2018
As a Democrat-funded TVn ad released criticized state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, he is expected to appear today with abuse survivors to continue his support of passing legislation that would allow childhood sexual abuse survivors to pursue criminal and civil justice.
In a 30-second commercial paid for and authorized by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, McGarrigle's picture appears alongside eight state senators under the banner, "GOP Senators Too Cowardly to Vote."
The ad, called "Window," refers to the state Senate's inability to pass SB 261 that would create a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a civil suit against their abuser or institutions that covered it up, like the Catholic Church. It would also enable future victims to sue until they were 50 years old. Current law caps that at the age of 30.
The measure passed the state House of Representatives at the end of September by a 173-21 vote. However, despite support from McGarrigle and other senators, it never got a vote after state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-25 of Jefferson County, crafted legislation that would eliminate institutions from being sued in the two-year window.
McGarrigle has stated he would have voted for the civil window against perpetrators and institutions then and would do so if it were to come up for a vote.
The press conference today by Stop Child Predators in front of the Delaware County Courthouse in which survivor advocates, McGarrigle and state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, will call on the Senate to return to session to pass legislation allowing survivors to take their abusers to court.
"Survivors deserve to have their day in court," Stacie Rumenap, president of Stop Child Predators, said. "The Senate should return to session and pass a comprehensive statute of reform that will give these victims their long-awaited justice."
In the SDCC ad, a woman says, "They call it a window to justice – a chance for victims to have their day in court, to be heard."
After lauding state representatives for passing SB 261, she continues, "But Republicans in the Senate? They just walked away. No vote. No debate. No justice. If Senate Republicans won't stand with victims, how can we expect them to stand with us?"
Pete Peterson from McGarrigle's campaign called the spot offensive, considering McGarrigle's stance.
"This is clearly a new low from Tom's opponent and Senate Democrats," he said. "It is offensive to politicize the tragic abuses these victims and their families had to endure. The victims and advocates of both physical and sexual assault know where Tom stands, including his complete support for justice and specifically a window for justice."
Joe Corrigan, spokesman for McGarrigle's Democratic opponent Tim Kearney, said the senator's support of the two-year civil window wasn't enough.
“Tom McGarrigle, being more upset about a campaign ad than about his own caucus which has failed child sex abuse victims, once again says everything we need to know about the kind of politician Tom McGarrigle is," Corrigan said. "It is offensive that Pennsylvanians who were violated as children have little recourse under current law to hold abusers and enabling institutions accountable. It is offensive that Tom McGarrigle believes his press statements are of any comfort to the dozens of survivors who traveled to their state Capitol, were promised justice was near, and who at the 11th hour were failed yet again by Senate Republicans.
"Where’s Tom McGarrigle’s press statement denouncing Senate GOP leader Joe Scarnati after he accused child rape survivors of being politically motivated?" Corrigan continued. "It is offensive for Tom McGarrigle to portray himself as a victim in this shameful debacle. The only parties that have earned the right to be offended here are child rape survivors seeking justice and taxpayers who deserve real leadership from elected officials.”