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In addition to a current law that is extending the statute of limitations for filing an abuse claim in Pennsylvania, two bills are currently before the Pennsylvania Senate that would give victims of sexual assault and abuse a new window to pursue claims against the church as well as clergy members.

What This Means for You

If you or a loved one has been abused by clergy members, whether last month or twenty years ago, you may have the ability to hold the abusers and those who may have assisted in covering up the abuse accountable.

Because of the age, psychological damage, and terror created by abusers, many children and teenagers understandably never reported instances of abuse when they occurred. What has occurred to these victims occurs in secret and some victims are the most marginalized members of our society for whom disclosure of such abuse is just not an option. There is also significant stigma in our society against not just women and girls, but against men who are victims of abuse as well. This new law will give a chance for these children, now adults, to face their abusers.

Sexual Abuse in General

The issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has been a subject of controversy and public debate for many years. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been particularly affected by this issue, with a grand jury investigation in 2018 uncovering widespread abuse of minors by members of the clergy over several decades. The investigation identified more than 300 priests who had abused children and over 1,000 victims.

The grand jury report highlighted the failure of the Church hierarchy to protect children and the failure of law enforcement agencies to hold abusers accountable. This has led to a situation where victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy face significant challenges in seeking justice and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault or abuse by a member of the clergy, it is important to understand your rights under Pennsylvania law. A law firm that specializes in fighting for victims of sexual abuse can provide you with the support and guidance you need to pursue justice and hold those responsible accountable.

Under Pennsylvania law, victims of sexual assault have the right to pursue both criminal and civil action against their abusers. Criminal charges can be brought against the perpetrator by the state, with the goal of punishing the offender for their actions and preventing abusers from committing similar offenses.

Where Things Currently Stand with the Passage of the New Bills

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives has passed two measures for the fourth time in six years that would permit adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators or the institutions that protected them. The two bills will now go to the state Senate, where their future is uncertain. Republican Senate leaders have combined their own version of the legislation with two other measures that Democrats vehemently oppose: requiring voter IDs at the ballot box and altering the way Pennsylvania changes its regulations. The two bills passed in the House would create a two-year window for childhood sexual assault victims to file civil suits through different means. One is a constitutional amendment, while the other is a statutory change. The issue has received strong bipartisan support each time it has passed the House. However, Senate GOP leadership has been the most significant barrier to justice for victims, according to House lawmakers and advocates. Window legislation had previously passed both the House and Senate in Pennsylvania, and the only reason it did not become law, then, was that then-Secretary of State Boockvar did not properly post notice of the proposed new law. The Pennsylvania Senate now appears poised to pick up where it left off and pass one of the two bills that have passed the House.


In addition to new window legislation, there is also a current Pennsylvania law that extends the time to bring a claim for sexual assault and abuse. You currently have until age 55 to sue in Pennsylvania if you were a child when you were sexually abused. Additionally, persons age 18 to 23 when they were sexually abused have until they reach the age of thirty (30) to sue in Pennsylvania. You should not wait but reach out to one of our attorneys today to make certain your rights are protected!

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