Senate takes up fight over sexual abuse victims’ lawsuits

Regional News

On the same day the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a pair of bills aimed at reforming the state’s statute of limitations law for childhood sexual abuse victims, Senate Democrats unveiled their own bill.

Senate Bill 540, unveiled at the Capitol on Wednesday, would eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse, assault, and misconduct. It would apply to both childhood and adult victims.

The bill would also provide a two-year window for past victims of abuse to file a lawsuit.

Eliminating the statute of limitations, as well as establishing the two-year window, were recommendations made by a statewide grand jury that investigated child sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic church.

“The grand jury unanimously recommended these reforms,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “The public supports these reforms. A majority of lawmakers in both chambers support these reforms. It is now time to get this work done.”

Senate Bill 540 also provides a six-month delay to the window, so survivors can voluntarily settle their claim outside the court system if they wish to do so.

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