Pa. child sex abuse constitutional amendment advances

Tony Romeo
November 18, 2019 - 5:17 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Victims of child sex abuse who want a new chance to seek justice are marking a partial victory. A proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution is now teed up for a vote in the state Senate. 

The question remains, however, on whether or not to open a window of retroactivity in the statute of limitations for older child sex abuse victims to sue — and how to do that. 

Victim advocates want it done by changing the law. But the top ranking member of the state Senate resisted, saying it is necessary to change the state constitution. 

Now, constitutional amendment legislation — already passed by the Pennsylvania House — has cleared the state Senate Judiciary Committee. But even if, as expected, it passes the full Senate, it will have to pass both chambers again in the next session of the Legislature, starting in 2021, before voters decide. 

Victim advocate Jennifer Storm would prefer it be done by law.

“If we go the constitutional route, there’s no way we’re not in the courts battling it in three or four years,” she said. The longer process of amending the state constitution will mean more delays for victims.

Nonetheless, Storm is content that the logjam has been broken, and she said the action by the Senate Judiciary Committee is “positive movement” for victims of child sex abuse.

“If it ends up that this is the only option this week for survivors, it at least moves the needle forward — of course we’re going to be supportive,” she said.