Sex abuse laws in Pennsylvania are changing. Recently, the state passed a law that expands the rights of victims, but was it enough? Some lawmakers are voicing opposition, stating the reform was a step in the right direction but that more is needed.
What's wrong with the law that was just passed? At issue was the fact that a key piece of language within the law was removed before passage. This portion was designed to expand the rights of victims by providing a longer time period that victims could bring forward a case against their abusers.
The retroactive language was attacked by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, among others. These groups stated that such language was a direct attack on churches ... and they won. Their vocal opposition resulted in the government removing the language.
What language was removed? The original proposal included language that expanded the window of opportunity for a victim to file a suit against his or her abuser. The current language allows for civil cases to occur until the victim reaches the age of 30. The proposal would have expanded this to the age of 50. It also would have removed any limitation on criminal suits against the accused.
What can victims and advocates do? A recent publication in Lancaster Online addressed the controversy, with a call for advocates of additional reform to use the power of democracy. The piece called for victims and advocates to continue to push their representatives in Congress for reform - to refuse to settle.
State Rep. Rozzi, an abuse survivor, made it clear that he would continue to push for reform. Those in his camp agree and are urging citizens to join the fight, to demand that their representatives do not settle for the reform that was passed but push for continued change and expanded support for victims.