(HARRISBURG) – Honoring a promise she made to victims of childhood sexual abuse, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) is introducing legislation to allow for the creation of a two-year window to the civil statute of limitations. The effort builds on a proposal by Representative Jim Gregory (R-80) that gained approval last year and offers an opportunity for individuals to move forward in their pursuit of justice.
Senator Baker, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, explained the urgent need for this measure to receive consideration.
“Representative Gregory, an abuse survivor himself, has done an incredible job advocating for the abused and working to advance remedies to provide them access to justice,” Senator Baker said. “Last session the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on this matter shed a tremendous amount of light on the suffering of these brave survivors and the desire of many victims to have the opportunity to be heard in a court of law. We learned that the arbitrary age thresholds and time limitations established years ago are no longer sufficient to deal with the horrific and widespread cases of abuse that continue to surface.”
The Senate and House each passed House Bill 963 during the previous legislative session. Because the bill would amend the state Constitution, it must be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by voters in order to become law. Specifically, the bill will seek to amend Section 11 of Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a two-year window for victims to bring civil claims for past abuses. If approved, victims would be permitted to submit a claim in civil court even if the statute of limitations has already expired.
“By passing identical legislation in two consecutive sessions, we are ensuring that this change to the statute of limitations occurs in a constitutionally-sound manner. This legislation is a top priority and will be considered at the first meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year,” Senator Baker stated.
Representative Gregory emphasized the importance of ensuring the legislation reaches the finish line.
“The historic nature of this legislation will allow the people of Pennsylvania to very soon make their voices heard to repair the damage of decades of abuse by providing the “two-year window” for victims to be heard,” Representative Gregory said. “I thank Chairwoman Baker for taking quick action to bring this issue to the forefront and hopefully ensure the measure can be brought before the voters this spring.”
In previous legislative sessions, both Senator Baker and Representative Gregory have worked closely to advance additional legislation to aid victims of childhood abuse. The legislators noted that last session with the passage of Representative Mark Rozzi’s House Bill 962, the criminal statute of limitations for future childhood sexual abuse cases was removed for most cases. Senator Baker also authored an amendment that increased the time that victims under the age of 24 have to file civil claims and removed some of the barriers victims of sexual abuse experience in accessing appropriate counseling.
Information regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee can be found here. The agenda and meeting documents will be shared on the site once a meeting has been scheduled.