A package of bills which will reform the statutes of limitations in sexual assault-related cases were signed into law in November by Governor Tom Wolf.
PCAR, its network of victim service providers throughout the Commonwealth and countless survivors and legislative champions advocated for years to address the outdate statutes of limitations.
We express our deep gratitude and respect to victims and survivors for their advocacy. Reform could not have happened without survivors’ leadership, perseverance, and expertise. We will keep advocating for the passage of a retroactive civil remedy with you and other partners in the next legislative session.
Collectively, the bills—HB 962, HB 963, HB 1051 and HB 1171—work to remedy recommendations made in the 2018 Grand Jury Report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. While the Grand Jury Report focused on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, this legislative package pertains to abuse against children across secular and religious institutions. We know this is not solely a Catholic Church problem.
HB 963 aims to amend the State Constitution to provide a two-year window to enable previously time-barred child survivors access to civil justice. To amend the constitution, the bill must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and a ballot referendum.
Generally, the legislative reforms passed in HB 962, HB 1051 and HB 1171 will do the following:
- Expand the rights of victims abused as children to seek justice in both criminal and civil realms.
- Expand the timeline for victims abused as young adults, between the ages of 18 and 23 to seek justice in both criminal and civil realms.
- Create a fund for victims to seek counseling, through the Victims Compensation Assistance Program.
- Clarify the penalties for failing to report child abuse.
- Prohibit non-disclosure agreements that bar victims from reporting to law enforcement.
For more details and information about these changes, please contact PCAR at 1-800-692-7445.
PCAR thanks legislative champions in the House and Senate and partners in the Office of Victim Advocate and the Office of the Attorney General for their leadership and advocacy.