Pa. House, Senate appear poised for a battle over child sex abuse bill

Rep. Mark Rozzi, (D-Berks) speaks at a rally in favor of the a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits on statute-limited cases. (Katie Meyer/WITF)

Rep. Mark Rozzi, (D-Berks) speaks at a rally in favor of the a two-year window for retroactive lawsuits on statute-limited cases. (Katie Meyer/WITF)

Pennsylvania’s House and Senate are on track to clash this week over a bill intended to make it easier for child victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers.

The two chambers agree on most of the measure’s major components. However, a split over whether to allow retroactive lawsuits may sink the entire thing.

Fundamentally, the proposal would eliminate the statute of limitations on all child sexual abuse cases and extend the time limit for victims to file civil suits against institutions.

The version the House passed would also open a two-year window for lawsuits in cases for which the statute of limitations already expired.

The Senate cut that provision in a draft of their proposed changes — instead adding a compensation fund for statute-limited victims and establishing a public registry where abusers can be named.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he received the Senate’s proposal Thursday evening and provided a copy to reporters. He called it a “slap in the face,” and said it doesn’t go far enough to give abuse victims recourse.

“There’s going to be a full-out war against them if they do not put a window in this bill,” he said.

A spokesman for Senate leaders didn’t return a request for comment.

Rozzi, who said negotiations are still ongoing, said he is hopeful the two chambers will reach some agreement before the session ends, and the bill automatically dies.

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