PA House Passes Bill Creating Two-Year Window for Old Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

By Hemant Mehta

A bill passed by the Pennsylvania House in a 173-21 vote this week would give victims of child sexual abuse a chance to get justice.

If the State Senate passes it, which isn’t necessarily a given, it would be a welcome legislative response to the state’s recent grand jury report which found more than a thousand victims of sex abuse at the hands of more than 300 Catholic priests over the course of several decades.

Senate Bill 261 would do the following if it’s signed into law:

  • Get rid of all statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse cases.
  • Extend the deadline for civil cases against abusers and those supervising them to age 50. (It’s currently 30.)
  • Create a two-year window for past victims to sue their abusers if they’re currently timed out of the legal system due to a statute of limitations.

That last one is a really big deal, because it would allow victims who are much older today — and who have a much clearer understanding of what happened to them — to sue their abusers. Many of them are speaking out these days but have no legal option available to them because the crimes occurred decades ago. Now, they could do something about it.

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