HARRISBURG, Pa. – The State House has passed a bill that would reform the statute of limitations regarding child sexual abuse cases. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin County, and Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Juniata counties.
“This is an important bill for Pennsylvania children,” said Rep. Joseph Petrarca, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “Not only does it help to protect our children, it also allows child sex abuse survivors to seek justice.”
The bill would abolish the criminal statute of limitations for future criminal prosecutions for serious child sexual abuse crimes relating to human trafficking, sexual servitude, rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent sexual assault and incest. The bill also would waive sovereign immunity for state and local public institutions in cases of gross negligence, which would allow civil cases to be filed against them.
It also would increase the length of time, from age 30 to age 50, for when child sexual abuse victims could file civil claims. As amended by the House Monday, this provision would be retroactive, so that civil suits could be filed no matter when the crime occurred, as long as the survivor meets the age criteria.
“Abolishing the criminal statute of limitations will send a message to abusers that they no longer can be free from prosecution simply because the statute of limitations expired on their crime before they could be brought to justice,” he said. “I encourage the Senate to take up this bill so that strong message can be sent, ” said Rep. Petrarca.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.