Legislation would remove artificial deadline, allowing victims and survivors to seek justice without restriction
Harrisburg, PA, – April 10, 2019 – Senator Tim Kearney and his four freshman Senate colleagues – Senators Lindsey Williams, Katie Muth, Steve Santarsiero, and Maria Collett – were joined by almost all members of the Senate Democrats in introducing legislation to abolish the statute of limitations for sexual abuse, assault, and misconduct.
“I wanted to get to Harrisburg to amplify the voices of those who’ve gone unheard for far too long,” said Senator Kearney. “Trauma does not have an expiration date. We will not limit survivors’ opportunities to seek justice.”
The bill would amend Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) to:
- eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations (SOL) for sexual abuse, assault and misconduct victims whose abuse happened at any age;
- provide a 2 year civil window to revive previously expired SOL claims, and;
- provide a 6-month delay to the window in which survivors who wish to voluntarily settle their claim outside the court system are able to do so.
“For too long victims have had no recourse, unable to press charges after some artificial deadline has kicked in,” Senator Kearney continued. “This has resulted in zero consequences for many perpetrators while victims are left with lasting trauma, like PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. The challenges for victims are further exacerbated by knowing they have no legal recourse, even as abusers go on putting still others at risk.”
This bill addresses the concerns of the Grand Jury report on church sex abuse, and follows on from the good work previously introduced in SB 261 and HB 612 in 2017-2018.
This crisis is indiscriminate of age as there are countless victims who have been subjected to sexual abuse, assault and misconduct in their lifetime. A study done by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) found that 82% of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 64. The 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey Date Brief showed that 55.6% of women surveyed were 18 years or older when they were first-time victims of completed or attempted rape.
While these data are shocking, the research is based only on reported abuse, assault and misconduct and does not reflect the real scope of the crisis. The Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that only 36% of rapes, 34% of attempted rapes, and 26% of sexual assaults were actually reported between 1992 and 2000.
Senators already signed on to sponsor the bill are: Senator Timothy P. Kearney and Senator Maria Collett, Senator Katie J. Muth, Senator Steven J. Santarsiero, Senator Lindsey Williams, Senator John P. Blake, Senator James R. Brewster, Senator Jay Costa, Senator Andrew E. Dinniman, Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr., Senator Wayne D. Fontana, Senator Vincent J. Hughes, Senator Daylin Leach, Senator Judith L. Schwank, Senator Sharif Street, Senator Christine M. Tartaglione, Senator Anthony H. Williams.
Senator Tim Kearney is a longtime community leader in southeastern Pennsylvania, chairing the Swarthmore Borough Planning Commission for seven years and serving his second term as Mayor until his recent election to the Pennsylvania State Senate. Under Tim’s leadership, Swarthmore has become a leader in environmental protection and sustainability practices, fair and equitable policing practices, and LGBTQ equality. He’s proud of initiating an Aging in Place Taskforce to ensure the vitality of Swarthmore and its senior population. Tim is a member of the American Institute of Architects, Mayors for Peace, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Climate Mayors, Mayors for Solar Energy, Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, We Are Still In – Climate Action, and Mayors for Solar Power. Senator Tim Kearney lives in Swarthmore Borough with his wife, Claudia. They have two grown children who both attended public schools in Delaware County. The 26th District includes a large part of Delaware County and parts of Chester County