Key Points From Senate SOL Reform Bill Hearing

Click here to read: “Arguments on constitutionality: The main points point out of Senate hearing on statute of limitations reform bill,” by Ivey DeJesus, June 13, 2016


The hearing, which featured five expert witnesses, only one testifying in support of the bill, focused on the constitutionality of the bill, which would impose look-back measures for past victims of abuse, including those molested by priests as children.

Much of the testimony centered around the state’s constitutional remedies clause, which ostensibly bars the General Assembly from retroactively altering expired statutes of limitations.

Editor’s Note:

4 to 1? Who organizes a hearing that way?

37 thoughts on “Key Points From Senate SOL Reform Bill Hearing

  1. The Catholic Church cares nothing of those it has harmed and everything about preserving its own assets….

  2. As I have commented on a previous thread the deck was stacked against victims of abuse and their supporters. I am not a lawyer and don’t claim to be. But if you picked a dozen lawyers, six would tell you that this bill is constitutional and six would tell you that it is not. So much depends on how one interprets the constitution of the Commonwealth. What I do know is that Senator Greenleaf and those on this committee made their minds up before this hearing ever started. Senator Greenleaf should have recused himself because of conflict of interest. His law firm was involved in cases in Delaware. They represented the Norbertine order and fought against justice for survivors in Delaware.He did not disclose this himself but a lawyer who fought for victims in Delaware, Stephen J. Neuberger found this conflict some three weeks ago. Although Greenleaf himself was not involved in these cases in Delaware, his law firm profited from these cases. Also Bruce Castor, former District Attorney of Montgomery County, testified against victims. This is the guy who failed to prosecute Bill Cosby for drugging and sexually assaulting a Temple University worker.It amazes me that some guys always seem to be on the same side on issues. Bruce Castor is also a former law partner in Greenleaf’s practice.

    1. I am not an attorney, but I believe that a politician is not required to recuse if there is no potential for personal gain in participating in the legislative process. That would seem to be the case in matter. Unfortunately the majority party may invite opinions from anyone they choose, and while it is desirable to hear arguments on the legislation, it is more often than not the case that the testimony is to build a case to support the majority opinion regarding the legislation. That appears to be the reason in this case. You cannot blame this on a party as most politicians do this. Rather, it is indicative of a highly prevalent character flaw in the individual.

      1. That is exactly the point. Greenleaf and his law firm have profited in the past by defending the Catholic Church in sex abuse cases.They lost those cases. Now is the time to get back at victim’s lawyers and advocates. For me it is obviously a conflict of interest and for Greenleaf not to disclose his previous relationship with the Catholic Church is highly unethical.

      2. Paradox: This bill is a non partisan bill. It was approved in the House by a vote of 180 to 15. Obviously both Democrats and Republicans voted for the measure. Archbishop Chaput had priests in the parishes of several Republican House members verbally attacked from the pulpits of their Churches. You seem to imply in your post that this is simply the way politics work.The majority party decided before the hearing to vote against the bill.This may be the way it works in the Republican controlled Senate.But very clearly this is not about Justice for all.

  3. Who stacked the deck? We all know who. So, do pew Cathoics go on as before, as though nothing has happened? Or what consequences may be justly attached to such cleverness? Or are there none at all?

  4. I am planning to start a petition to send to the head of the senate and all the other senators o ask to have Greenleaf off the committee and Castor’s testimony removed. Anyone with me?
    Also to say that anyone deciding if the bill should move forward should be held accountable to review ALL testimonies
    This is about protecting children. California’s SOL reform pulled 300 perps off the street . The average perp has 150 male victims or 52 female. PA has 1/3 the population of CA We talking 5,200 to 15,000 kids saved from the horror of sexual abuse if this bill is passed
    Anyone with me? Trying to figure out the best strategy. Feedback and support appreciated Suz

    1. Suzpt – A petition is a great idea. Wide circulation for the most signatures would be great. Possibly get some news coverage on the petition. Your stats tell the entire story. Of course a window provides a shot a justice for individual victims, but the benefit is so much greater…. the abuse that could be prevented NOW. They always want to make it sound like this is “in the past”. Lives of pain and suffering for literally thousands of Pennsylvanians could be prevented.

  5. In this necessary, on-going effort to insure legal access and justice for prior victims and their families, all those committed to this objective will continue on and have been strengthened by the events of the past few months. This has been a difficult, painful and exhausting struggle for those intimately involved in the protection of our children and the challenges have been many. Regardless of those elected officials who have decided to stand in the way of meaningful and life-enriching reform, the Children of PA, past and present, will win this fight. Whether it was Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, then Rep. Ron Marsico, or now, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, the cause is far greater and noble than any one official who has consciously, deliberately and knowingly chosen businesses, institutions, religions, etc. over the innocence, safety and protection of the youngest citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. No matter the obstacle or impediment, those who champion the cause of victims, their families and PA children will win this battle, and those block the path or turn away from our children will eventually learn this lesson.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (Retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

    1. I totally agree Michael. I am so glad I attended the St. Charles meeting and this recent committee hearing. Both these meetings confirmed that the AD priority is protecting assets and not children. It’s evil wrong and goes against everything I learned in catholic school.In addition I attended St. Andrews in Drexel Hill and Archbishop Prendergast. Both these schools had predators that were listed in the grand jury reports that were stationed there the same years I atrended them. I feel a moral obligation to fight for survivors because like the actor said in Spotlight “it could have been me”.In searching for the Truth I have met and heard the stories of our survivors and their families. If anything the events of the recent weeks have strengthened my resolute to fight for survivors and our children. Thankyou to everyone on this site and the brave men and woman off site fighting to protect children.

      1. The ironic thing is that Beth and I met for the first time a few years ago in our efforts for victims/children and we found out that in this very large Archdiocese we had attended the same grade school and high school. We share the same feelings on the depravity that went on and the disgust that some priests from our youth were predators.
        On social media there was nothing that I saw from my childhood/high school friends about the message the Church wanted people to be sharing about calling the senators..not one person sharing this info from the church bulletins etc. Instead some angry texts and face book messages of people disgusted by the message being delivered from the pulpit. Beth was there something unique about how we we were all educated?..we had IHM,Mercy and St Joe’s nuns..why do we see things so differently than the hierarchy?. Like you 16 years of catholic education and none of this makes sense

        1. suzpt: Thank you for posting this article.There is an awful stench emanating from the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Stuart Greenleaf. According to another opponent of SOL legislation, Greenleaf does not have to recuse himself because no vote was taken. And obviously no vote will be taken.This is very convenient. I am sure the Archbishop will have his priests thank Senator Greenleaf for his failure to take action.I want to give a plug for Tom Neuberger, the father of Steve Neuberger. He has written a book entitled “When Priests Become Predators: Profiles of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors”The book is about survivors they have helped in Delaware.

        2. suzpt; Evidently your arguments have led Stewart Greenleaf to recuse himself from any further involvement with House Bill 1947. ON Saturday, June 25th Greenleaf announced that he would recuse himself from having anything further to do with this bill. What effects this may have on the passage of the bill we really don’t know yet.But it is certainly a step in the right direction.

  6. Simple question – is it also
    against the constitution to also sexually abuse children ?

  7. Are they protecting our kids as they still craft poor bills with loopholes? Crafting too many vague bills so that criminal prosecution is almost impossible.Will this affect the case of those mentioned in the hearing on HB 1947 – teachers who did not report the teacher who was sexually abusing a student? Maybe we need more threats of title 9 funding loss as a few students at Shamokin Area (sexting) and Southern Columbia (Forcing student to attend class with her rapist) did with their lawsuits.

  8. Are there any Senators not on the Judiciary Committee who could urge the Chairman to vote it out of committee and just let the full Senate vote? How are they going to explain to their constituents that a bi-partisan bill with wildly overwhelming 180-15 support, somehow got hung up in committee?? That is just blatantly ignoring the will of the people…. PS… will be looking for your letters to the editors suspt… any further thoughts on a petition?

  9. Sent letters personally to all senators today (except Greenleaf) not sure who the key people are so sent it to them all. Perhaps someone else knows?
    There is a petition PCAR already! Just go to their homepage!
    Will attach my cover letter and letter to editor separately

  10. Letter to senators:
    Dear Senator,

    As a resident of the Commonwealth, spouse of a local councilman, and medical professional working with young children, I implore your assistance to use any influence that you might have with your colleagues in our senate to assist in bringing HB1947 to the senate floor so that you to have a chance to vote.

    This past week I was disgusted to see the spin from the diocese of Harrisburg inferring that this bill might make schools close. As a victim of clergy abuse in another state, my lawsuit wasn’t about the money (which after over 3 years of gathering evidence and grueling testimony provided enough to pay off my car.) It was the only way I had to make my abuse know to the world. For victims it’s about making sure that a perpetrator can never hurt another child.

    What is more important than protecting the innocents? I have been a cradle Catholic, have served as a Eucharistic Minister, often attended daily Mass and played an active role our parish. I am ashamed of my institution that favors image and finances over the safety of children. An institution that brainwashes children sending them home with postcards suggesting that this bill might close their school. My claim didn’t close a school, but the money spent by the Catholic Conference might! My claim identified a monster to the pubic! What is more important than protecting the innocents?

    After reading their propaganda in the Catholic Witness and Monday’s hearing I have made the heartbreaking decision that in good conscience I can no longer be a Catholic.

    An individual’s perception is their fact. Due to the conflict of interest, Senator Greenleaf should recuse himself due to the perception of bias unless he allows the vote to come to the senate floor.

    Attached is a letter to the editor, which I have submitted to the news media as well as your fellow senators.

    Thank you for your attention,

  11. Senator Stewart Greenleaf sits in Harrisburg like King Solomon with the fate of 5,200-15,000 of your, grand children and neighbors in his hands. Based on the 300 predators defied in California father reform of their Statue of Limitations on Sexual Abuse, and the fact that the average molester has 52 female or 150 male victims, and comparing the population of our Commonwealth, these are conservative estimates of the number of children that can be saved from the horrors of rape and molestation

    The House of Representatives voted for HB1947 with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. Why can’t the Senate vote???? Senator Greenleaf heads committee that decides if it can and if he doesn’t call for a vote the bill dies. The fate of the bill is in the hands of one man who’s law firm has represented the institutions and perpetrators. Something is fishy in Harrisburg.

    Last Monday a public hearing was held to discuss the constitutionality of the bill.
    Greenleaf allowed testimony from 4 witnesses on behalf of those trying to block the bill, the interests that favor businesses, insurance companies, institutions, religions, etc., over the innocence, safety and protection of our youngest citizens t.

    The 4 made a case for a portion of the bill possibly being unconstitutional based on a 1908 decision concerning liability for a railroad injury. Solicitor Bruce Castor, a former prosecutor who failed to charge Bill Cosby and partner in the same firm as Greenleaf, which has defended perpetrators, presented this.

    Only 1 witness for allowed the victims. The prosecutors who worked very, very hard on grand jury reports and whose lives changed by learning of this abuse had asked to testify and were not permitted! The Dept. of Justice Deputy Attorney General from Delaware with background in a similar law was not permitted to testify. This left only 1 witness for the victims!! 4:1 who holds a meeting this way? Isn’t this a little biased? Does this sound rigged?

    The witness for the children Marci Hamilton is a constitutional law expert and one of the country’s leading experts on statutes of limitations explained how this did not apply. She pointed out inconsistencies in comparing this to 1908 case.
    She proposed that the bill should go through and if challenged let those with legal expertise handle the potential wrinkle.

    Sen. John Rafferty agreed that this was a decision more appropriate for the PA Supreme Court to decide. How does Senator Greenleaf decide he is more qualified to determine the fate of innocent children?

    You can protect your child, grandchild or neighbor from being raped by a serial pedophile. HB 1947 reform of the Stature of Limitations for sexual abuse passed in the PA house with an overwhelming majority. It could be passed today if the Senate was allowed to vote on it. This is all we ask for! Every day this bill isn’t passed is another day more children are being victimized!

    1. suzpt: Fabulous letter to the PA Senators. Clear, concise and compelling. Well done and many thanks. I am hopeful it gets picked up by the press. Do you or any others have a desire to attempt to meet with anyone from the Judiciary Committee, or any other senators? Even if we couldn’t get a meeting, maybe we could get some mileage out of being denied a meeting?? 180-15 in the house and he is going to hold it up in committee?? On the heels of the overwhelming house vote and the sickening Altoona-Johnstown Diocese grand jury report… now is the time to keep up the pressure.

  12. Here’s the list if you want to target the judiciary committee: Rafferty seemed to sympathize with the victims. Leach didn’t show at the meeting Most cut out before they heard the one testimony for victims.
    Didn’t bother contacting Greenleaf for obvious reasons. If he doesn’t put it to a vote in the committee, the bill dies.

    Greenleaf Stewart J 12 R
    Leach Daylin 17 D
    Rafferty Jr. John C 44 R
    Scarnati III Joseph B 25 R
    Alloway II Richard L 33 R
    Eichelberger Jr. John H 30 R
    Gordner John R 27 R
    Reschenthaler Guy 37 R
    Vulakovich Randy 38 R
    Yaw Gene 23 R
    Boscola Lisa M 18 D
    Farnese Jr. Lawrence M 1 D
    Haywood Art 4 D
    Sabatina Jr. John P 5 D

  13. Took me a little while to find the petition on the website. It’s the link right below the photo of the pews at the bottom of the page

  14. Please consider putting this on your FaceBook page or any social media you are on.
    Here’s what I have posted. My estimate on numbers is based on 300 perps in California and 52 girls or 150 boys per predator. We ghave 1/3 the population, hence 100 predators to be discovered We had a creepy guy 4 houses down from is the kids knew to stay away from as he was on a list. It’s not just about priests even though that’s why we are here

    Urgent plea from Susan
    Please consider helping protect children and supporting victims of sexual assault by signing the attached petition.
    If this bill is put through as it needs to, it is estimated hat 100 predators will be exposed saving between 5,000 and 15,000 children in PA from the horrors of violation which I have experienced.
    We are talking about your child, grandchild and neighbor!

    Link for the letter:

    Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
    125 North Enola Drive
    Enola, PA 17025
    717.728.9740 x154
    877.739.3895 x154 Toll Free
    Help• Hope • Healing

  15. Don’t know of any plans to meet w senators. Sounds like a great idea
    Have family responsibilities for the next 10 days so hope someone picks up on this now

    1. Yes people are lobbying for Bill 1947. The more people that wanna lobby their Senators the better.

    1. If you haven’t put your name on the PCAR petition, you haven’t done everything you could to save this bill!
      Please go the the website listed in my previous post. It only takes a minute but might be the signature that can save our kids in PA!


        Hopefully more petition to follow along with PCAR with many signatures.. This had signatures from every senatorial district.

        Hamilton’s discussions such as the grand jury report that has not been release, the doctor, who practiced in NE Philly before moving to Delaware – records sealed in PA, and the discussion of the Lewis case demonstrating not only that is was the substance issue but not mentioned was the special interest and protection of the railroads. I would like to know exactly besides title nine what Sen Rafferty. Hamilton counter all of those witnesses. Very angry that a person who rode the Sandusky case into office can not understand the disservice she has done to the survivors. PA politics at its worse. Wonder why so many don’t trust the government.

      2. Is this true?

        “Jun 23, 2016 — Hello everyone, Two quick and exciting updates. One – the bill will likely be voted on Monday. If you can please call your Senators and the members of the PA Senate Judiciary committee to express your support for the bill AS IS. There’s a rumor that they will amend to take out the retroactive piece, which is critical for victims to get justice. Two – our petition was featured in an article in..”

        1. “Two quick and exciting updates. One – the bill will likely be voted on Monday. If you can please call your Senators and the members of the PA Senate Judiciary committee to express your support for the bill AS IS. There’s a rumor that they will amend to take out the retroactive piece, which is critical for victims to get justice.

          Two – our petition was featured in an article in the Morning Call. It was written by Bill White. I included the link below, so you can read for yourselves!

          I also personally dropped off all of our signatures to four key senators, and will make some more visits tomorrow. Their staff was shocked that we had so many – in a good way 🙂

          All the best! Mariya”

          You are not alone and thank you for those who shared a special prayer for all especially for the one third whose PTSD will keep them from filing a civil suit as stated by Ms Hamilton.

    2. My post yesterday on FaceBook

      Why does a childhood victim of sexual assault need to file a claim often decades later ?

      1) EXPOSE their predator to protect innocent children he can still victimize

      2) EMPOWER other victims to realize they weren’t the only one so they can get help (the average perpetrator molests 52 girls)

      3) BEGIN their own healing journey – Telling authorities is like removing a splinter that has been festering in your soul. It’s painful, but necessary.
      Seeking help to connect the dots and understand the source of their PTSD symptoms, perfectionism, eating disorders, distorted body image, nighttmares, feeling unlovable, always in fight and flight, challenges with trust, faith and relationships……

      I am forever grateful to my answer to prayers -TURNING POINT COUNSELING CENTER in York, PA for helping me connect the dots and find peace after 45 years of pain!

      4) Least of all it’s about the money. A token sum does not make up for decades of pain, it doesn’t matter if the settlement is for $5.
      It is a heartache to have to do this against a institution you love, but it is the only way to have your voice be heard to expose these criminals.

      Saturday my case was settled, and I burned the Report of Abuse in a fire pit to symbolize the closure of my open wound.
      The scars remain, but the splinter that was making me ill & deep pain are gone.

      Now my only pain is the ache in my heart for:

      1) The estimated 50 victims of my predator who are still suffering alone. The fact that the monster is dead is irrelevant. Healing is possible even if after decades!
      2) Children still exposed to the horrors of violation because of the PA and other states Statutes of Limitations (SOL) are allowing more children to be victimized.

      If you have been a victim, it’s never too late to begin to recover. I pray you will seek the support and take the steps to heal. I pray our lawmakers get their priorities in order to realize nothing is more important than our children. Please cut, paste and share my post if you have children that you love!

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