Please send out this letter to your state representative. Locate their contact information by clicking here.
To: All Members of the General Assembly
Re: Ask Majority Leader Turzai to Call Up House Bill 342
HB 342 proposed by Rep. Marguerite Quinn prevents the disclosure of the names of victims of child sexual abuse in the court system, regardless of their age. This legislation was one of the recommendations of the PA Task Force on Child Protection and deserves a vote by the General Assembly.
Rep. Michael McGeehan and Rep. Mark Rozzi have drafted amendments to this bill to provide a one-time two-year window of opportunity to suspend the statute of limitations for adult victims of child sexual abuse to pursue civil actions.
It is well known that for many reasons, it can take decades for victims of childhood sex abuse to come to terms with their abuse and to muster the courage to seek justice. Most survivors, for fear of public exposure, or because they simply can’t prove the abuse that has taken place in secrecy, can’t bring suit. But if they are ready, and there is evidence to substantiate claims, victims should be able to file suit, and if successful, expose the predators among us.
We urge you to ask Majority Leader Turzai to call up Rep. Quinn’s HB 342 for a vote on the Floor of the House. And we also ask you to support the McGeehan and Rozzi amendments attached to it. It is time to protect survivors of childhood sexual assault and to provide them the opportunity to seek justice and thereby safeguard our communities from lifelong predators.
Other critical legislation:
HB 238 and HB 1185 proposed by Rep. Michael McGeehan and Rep. Mark Rozzi provide a one-time two-year window of opportunity to suspend the statute of limitations for adult victims of child sexual abuse to pursue civil actions.
HB 237 proposed by Rep. Bishop, removes the statute of limitations for filing criminal or civil actions in cases involving child sexual abuse altogether.
We urge you to ask Majority Leader Turzai to move these bills immediately. It is time to protect survivors of childhood sexual assault and to provide them the opportunity to seek justice and thereby safeguard our communities from lifelong predators.
More on the “Window” Legislation
Recently, the Los Angeles Times exposed Archbishop Roger Mahoney and his assistant Monsignor Thomas Curry for their roles in concealing child molestation by priests from law enforcement. A common strategy was to give predatory priests new assignments to avoid criminal investigation.
The investigation is ongoing with the files on 75 other predatory priests yet to be reviewed. The release of these files will expose both previously unknown predators as well as the officials who protected them. And that will make children in Los Angeles safe.
How is it that these files came to be released? They were released as part of a civil action taken on behalf of child sex abuse victims covered by the one year window in California suspending the statute of limitations on civil actions for past victims. No window, no trial. No trial, no documents. No documents, no exposure of predators. It really is that simple.
In Philadelphia, the Archdiocese has spent over $12 million (and counting) defending predator priests and they are still fighting against victims who are simply seeking justice
The sad reality is that child sexual abuse occurs in every imaginable setting. The “window” legislation is not about the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts of America or any other institution. It is about exposing predators and their protectors – wherever they may be found. We know, for a certainty, that these laws are the single most powerful tool available to us to protect children. It is time we started using them.
Other Recent Incidents
Over the past few months, we have been bombarded with stories involving the sexual abuse of children:
In State College, we have watched a revered coach being led away in handcuffs and arrested for child sex abuse – while two of the leaders of Penn State were indicted for lying to a grand jury about the abuse.
In Philadelphia, a Monsignor is in jail – not for abusing children but for enabling his fellow priests to abuse children by allowing them to be reassigned to parish after parish, giving them access to more and more child victims.
In Philadelphia the 48 year old former coach of the Ukrainian national hockey team is found dead in February – an apparent suicide. He had been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting underage boys in Philadelphia.
Besides these all too familiar cases we’ve seen many other cases from across the Commonwealth from Pittsburgh to Johnstown to the Philadelphia suburbs. This problem is not going away. How can this happen? How can there be hundreds of documented cases of child sex abuse in our Commonwealth – yet the perpetrators of that abuse almost always evade prosecution or any accountability at all?
The answer to these questions is simple and clear.
Pennsylvania, like many states, has antiquated statute of limitations laws which protect sexual predators and penalize sex abuse victims. They must be changed immediately.