The grand jury report concerning the sexual abuse within the Catholic church through the state of Pennsylvania has pushed many to rethink the current statute of limitations in the state. Advocates are pushing for a two-year window for victims to begin filing civil charges in cases where the statute has already expired. According to WHYY.org, victims and their families are pushing, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference remain stoutly opposed to retroactive lawsuits, suggesting the damage to the church financially would only penalize current parishioners.
Many have come forward to join the fight in PA. Gymnast Sarah Klein is a resident of Delaware County and a victim of Larry Nassar, the former Olympic team doctor at MSU. She pushed the state of Michigan to pass similar laws and has suggested she will help survivors continue the fight in PA. Michigan opened a 90-day window for the victims of Nassar to file civil claims then moved to lengthen the overall statute of limitations on all cases and dropped it for criminal charges. She cites it as a systemic problem that may only be stopped through reforms like these.
CHILD USA, a victims’ advocate group, has also pushed for change. With more than a thousand victims, they believe the fact that there is no current outlet for justice is frustrating. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is joining the fight as well, hoping that lawmakers will look to states that have done the same as Michigan.
State Senator Daylin Leach, a Montgomery County Democrat, has met with many of the survivors and hopes to pass a bill by November. Other legislators are on board and hoping to do the same.
On September 24, 2018, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed an overhaul of the statute of limitations that gives victims a two-year window to sue. The vote was 173 to 21 in favor. The bill now goes to the state Senate where advocates expect fierce battle to be waged, principally by the Catholic Church, to defeat the bill.