Pennsylvania Constitution Fast-Track Amendment Planned In Response To Child Abuse

A statute of limitations is a “cap” placed on certain times of criminal or civil litigation. Have a personal injury or medical malpractice claim? Then you only have a few years to file a lawsuit due to the short statute of limitations. By comparison, there is no statute of limitations on criminal liability for the commission of a murder. Many Pennsylvania residents and legislators are looking to amend the state constitution to provide more time to victims of child sexual abuse to come forward.

This is because victims often suffer abuse when they are children, which makes coming forward to make a claim before the statute of limitations runs out even more unlikely.

Representative Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) said that he hopes a bipartisan resolution to amend the state constitution will pass with significant numbers. “We’ll be able to pass a standalone quickly and get this on the May ballot as originally intended,” he said.

Rozzi has reason to feel so strongly about the passage of this amendment: he was allegedly raped by a priest when he was only thirteen years old. 

Jenn Kocher, a spokesman for GOP-majority Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, said, “As always, we look forward to reviewing any plan the House is able to pass over to the Senate and that includes an emergency constitutional amendment.”

Pennsylvania state law gives many victims a significant window in which to file charges or a lawsuit, but not necessarily within the timeframe of adulthood — which is when most victims choose to step forward. The law closes that window at ages 18, 20, or 30. 

The amendment would give them a two-year reprieve.

Pennsylvania lawyer Ben Andreozzi said, “Those victims are literally at the mercy of the Pennsylvania Legislature.”

An emergency amendment wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for voters, who approved its during a vote in 1967.