Will Pennsylvania Help Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Legal Help for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

A statute of limitations prevents victims of childhood sexual abuse from seeking justice later in life. The Pennsylvania House advanced a bill that would adjust this statute, but the state Senate ignored it. Philadelphia attorney Stewart Eisenberg calls on the Senate to do better when it comes to victims of these horrific acts.

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Video Transcript:

I’m Rob Rosenthal for AskTheLawyers.com, and this is Ask The Lawyers:

The state legislature in Pennsylvania has again stopped short of making it possible for adult victims of sexual assault to sue their attackers decades after the assault took place.

The state House passed a bill that would have lifted, for two years, the statute of limitations that bars accusers over the age of 30 from suing for attacks that happened when they were young. However, the state Senate ended its session without taking any action on the bill… not even sending it to the floor for a vote.
Philadelphia attorney Stewart Eisenberg of the law firm Eisenberg Rothweiler says Pennsylvania lawmakers have buckled to pressures from lobbyists, especially from the insurance industry and the Catholic church. He says:

"The victims of child sexual abuse have not been able to hold either their abusers, the Catholic church or any other institution responsible for enabling this to happen and covering it up. It is about time that victims of childhood sexual abuse be able to come forward and expose what happened to them and receive the compensation they justly deserve."

Currently, survivors of child sex crimes have until age 30 to file a civil claim and until age 50 to file criminal charges against their abusers. The proposed change would have given victims until age 50 to file lawsuits, open a 2 year window for civil lawsuits, and eliminate the statute of limitation entirely for criminal prosecutions.

Shortly after the bill died in the Senate, the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia issued subpoenas to at least seven of the eight dioceses in Pennsylvania as part of a federal probe into child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic church.

Supporters of the bill say they are not giving up and will continue to fight to get the law in Pennsylvania changed.

If you have questions, need more information, or need to find a lawyer… visit AskTheLawyers.Com. I'm Rob Rosenthal for AskTheLawyers.com.

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