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Politics & Government

Legislation Would Change Statute Of Limitations In Child Sex Abuse Cases

The criminal statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for children who have been sexually abused is currently until the victim reaches 50 years of age, but legislation in the House and Senate would change that.  

“Too many abusers are still in public and around children because of the statute of limitations,” said State Senator Rob Telplitz (D-Dauphin), sponsor of SB 1350. “And too many victims languish and have had to stand by helpless as other children are put at risk.”

One in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused by 18, but only 10 percent of those abused will report the abuse, according to Telplitz. He believes that this can change by eliminating one factor discouraging victims.

The legislation is not retroactive. So any abuse committed before the bill becomes law is still under the current statute of limitations. There would be no age limit to prosecute if the abuse occurs after the measure is enacted.

"If and when they are able and ready to come forward, they’re often met with a brick wall,” Teplitz said. “These bills would give victims the opportunity to seek justice so that they can heal and end the cycle of abuse.”

The bill would also eliminate the sovereign immunity defense that protects clergy, public officials and institutions from prosecution.

Senate Bill 1350 mirrors House Bill 2067. The House bill is currently in the Judiciary Committee.