The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has voted to give people who were sexually abused as children more time to file lawsuits.
The House voted 171 to 23 on Monday to give older victims a two-year window to sue. Pennsylvania’s current statute of limitations law does not allow victims to file a lawsuit after they turn 30.
The legislation to change the law was recommended by the grand jury that found more than 300 Roman Catholic priests and other clergy members sexually abused children since the 1940’s.
History made, and then celebrated.
“For the first time, a 2-year window was passed overwhelmingly,” said Rep. Mark Rozzi.
Victims sat on the rotunda stairs of the Captiol Building in solidarity, and with signage supporting the House’s decision to pass one of the recommendations made by the Grand Jury who oversaw the predator priest cases in several PA Catholic Dioceses.
“Judgment day is upon, and this legislation will set the path straight,” said Rozzi.
“Know that at the Office of Attorney General we are investigating the sexual abuse of any Pennsylvanian wherever we find it,” said Josh Shapiro, PA Attorney General.
However, the church isn’t the only place where you will find victims. A few of former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar’s victims spoke at the rally.
“It didn’t dawn on me that the person I love, that the person I trusted, the person I would have called a member of my family had been digitally penetrating me for 17 years,” said Sarah Klein, the first known of Larry Nassar.
She says that opening a two-year window will empower those who have been silenced by their abusers.
“Without a window like this, you don’t get teh chance to hold these people accountable,” said Klein.
Rozzi says the final vote should pass Tuesday, and it will then move to the Senate.
Speakers at the rally had a simple message for those Senators who have just eight session days left.
“Eight days to call the question of who we are,” said Rep. Vince Hughes.
“Do your job,” said Rep. Rozzi.
“You’re either going to stand with us, or we’re going to show the world that you’re standing with the pedophiles,” said Shaun Dougherty, a victim spokesperson.
They also had a message for predators and abusers who have been financially and criminally protected by statutes of limitations.
“We are coming for you,” said Rep. Rozzi.