The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape released the following statement October 18 in response to the PA Senate's efforts to pass statutes of limitation reform in child sexual abuse cases.
Warning, this statement may be triggering to some survivors.
A priest forced a 9-year-old boy give him oral sex, then he rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water to purify him.
The Catholic Church then shielded this priest’s actions from public knowledge and law enforcement. This is just one of more than 1000 sexual abuses against over 300 clergy members outlined in the latest Grand Jury report in PA. The report further documents the systematic ways in which these abuses were covered up by Church leaders. This cover-up, and the transferring of abusive priests to other dioceses, led to hundreds of other children being abused throughout PA, the nation, and the world.
That is why both the perpetrator and institutions who collude with them to allow the abuse to continue must be held accountable.
We implore the Senate to come back to work before November 6th, and pass statute of limitations reform with a true window to justice. Victims, voters, the nation, and the world are watching and waiting for justice.
Institutional accountability is one of the most important measures for real reform and justice for victims who have already been hurt, and it must be included in the window to justice language. It also encourages policies, procedures, and staff trainings that fuel positive change and account for real harm caused to real people.
The Senate proposal would have also created a compensation program—one that leaves much to be desired— for victims in which institutions may create a restricted fund that could be used to pay claims against the entity or institution.
We question the logic of allowing institutions who have harmed victims the ability to determine the parameters of their own accountability.
This is simply not justice for the survivors—and their families—who have suffered for decades.
PCAR and its network of rape crisis centers throughout the Commonwealth know these survivors and families are not alone. There are victims who continue to suffer out of the spotlight, who were abused outside of the Catholic Church context. We know that the sexual abuse of children pervades every institution and that this issue is much bigger than the Catholic Church.
We will not give up. We know prevention is possible and justice will prevail. PCAR and the PA network of rape crisis centers stand in solidarity with victims and partners as we keep fighting for reform that includes a Window to Justice that holds both the perpetrator and the institutions who allow the abuse to continue accountable.
We find hope in the momentum and solidarity among victims, victim advocates, legislators from both parties and chambers, public officials, and activists in Pennsylvania. We applaud the leadership and efforts of Representative Rozzi, the Attorney General, and the Office of the Victim Advocate.
We know many of our elected officials in the House and Senate, including Floor Leader Reed, used their voices and positions of leadership to advocate for victims, for justice, and to refuse to accept a proposal that would let institutions off the hook for colluding in the sexual abuse of thousands of children. PCAR is grateful for the countless calls rape crisis centers, victims, and survivors who have courageously shared their experiences with the world and who continue to advocate for stronger laws and greater protections for others.
We implore the Senate to get back to work before the end of this session and deliver a bill that holds both perpetrators and institutions who collude with them accountable.
Chief Public Affairs Officer
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape