AG Shapiro pans proposal to exempt Catholic church from sex abuse lawsuits

Victims want legislation that would expand the statue of limitations retroactively

Tony Romeo
October 17, 2018 - 4:45 pm

Tony Romeo | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With hours remaining in the last scheduled voting day of the year, a proposal by the top-ranking Republican in the state Senate to exempt the Catholic Church from sex abuse lawsuits is landing with a thud among Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and other victim advocates. 

Victims of child sex abuse have long sought legislation that would, essentially, expand the statute of limitations retroactively so that lawsuits can be filed. Late last month, the House sent the Senate a bill to create a two-year window of opportunity for lawsuits. But the Senate balked at that idea and now, after being briefed on it, Attorney General Shapiro says the latest proposal is to create a window for lawsuits against individuals.

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"The Senate now supports a window. I guess they've agreed with my analysis that is constitutional, yet they want to exempt the Catholic church from that window, and instead just allow individual priests to be subject to that window," he said.

Shapiro says that proposal is unacceptable.  It's a position echoed by Berks County Representative Mark Rozzi who is a chief advocate for a lawsuit window in the House.