On June 20, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Senate took an important step forward for victims of childhood sexual abuse when it passed an amended version of HB 1947. Although HB 1947 would overhaul Pennsylvania’s child sex abuse laws, the legislation lacks the key measure that victims demanded. Unfortunately, the bill did not include a provision, which appeared in the bill’s original version, that would allow victims to pursue claims for abuse that occurred decades ago.
On the positive side, the legislation would remove the statute of limitations for criminal cases of child sexual abuse and extend the amount of time victims have to bring lawsuits against institutions in the future. Right now, criminal cases must be brought before the victim reaches age 50, and civil lawsuits against must be filed before the victim turns 30. The bill would give victims until age 50 to bring a suit against institutions, eliminate the time limit for suits against perpetrators, and completely eliminate the criminal statute of limitations.
In addition, HB 1947 would eliminate immunity for public institutions, like public schools and universities, that negligently allow sexual abuse of students. Currently, such institutions are immune from negligence lawsuits. A previous version of the bill required “gross negligence” for suits against public institutions.
HB 1947’s current version will return the Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives to be voted on in its amended form. If it passes there, it will go to the governor for signature.
Andreozzi + Foote represents sexual abuse victims in civil lawsuits. Our firm is well-known for its work on behalf of abuse victims, including representing several of Jerry Sandusky’s victims. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a crime and are interested in exploring a your legal options, please contact us at 866-311-8640 for a free consultation.