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UPDATE: Bills Challenge Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Victims of Sexual Assault

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UPDATE: Bills Challenge Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for Victims of Sexual Assault

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What happens to victims who were sexually abused as children, and wish to seek justice as adults years later? A statute of limitations presents a roadbloack for that kind of case, and advocates for justice are encouraging the Pennsylvania Senate to amend these statutes.

It was reported recently that deliberation returned back to the Senate in a dispute to offer victims that second chance to file lawsuits against perpetrators or institutions even outside the statute. This is largely to combat the fact that many defendants in cases like this end up covering up the wrongdoing foe fear of consequence. They cover it for so long that the statute of limitations effectively makes it so that there’s no chance of them receiving any consequence for sexual crimes.

Fighting for the Right to a Victim’s Chance for Justice

And the outlook is optimistic. Legislation actually relaxed those limitations due to a massive scandal with a Roman Catholic church when victims said “enough is enough.” In fact, it motivated many Senate Democrats—along with the Attorney General Josh Shapiro and victim advocates—to push for either an outright elimination of those limitations or a simple modification of the state law down to a stricter 2-year window of opportunity.

This isn’t a stretch, nor is it asking for much. As we speak, other states—such as New York and New Jersey—have adopted the same kind of window, so why not Pennsylvania? The slight issue is that while the Pennsylvania House has, in fact, passed legislation for now-adult victims a chance to pursue their perpetrators twice in three years, the Senate Republican majority has blocked the movement, claiming that it’s unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, even if victims get their due justice, it may take several years for the Constitution to make it through a process of amendment to mandate a 2-year window of limitation for victims. That is, if an amendment is necessary.

No one currently knows what to expect: whether it’s a Constitutional amendment or just a new statutory law, the Senate must effectively and successfully pass the bill. With a divided Senate, it could take a while to pass legislation.

The Best Thing You Can Do Is Reach Out to Your Representatives and Senators in Earnest

Get them to take a stand. Transform them. It’s all about what you believe. And if what those who represent you believe isn’t in line with your hopes, there’s a problem. Simply put, if two other states could vote unanimously for the sake of child sexual abuse victims, other states, such as Pennsylvania, can as well. All it takes is swinging those who make a difference toward the way of morality and not politics.

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