Pa. House tries again on bill allowing young sex-abuse victims to sue predators

     Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives meet to work on the state budget in 2012. Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the country, with 253 state lawmakers.  (AP photo/Bradley C Bower)

    Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives meet to work on the state budget in 2012. Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the country, with 253 state lawmakers. (AP photo/Bradley C Bower)

    Pennsylvania House lawmakers are, once again, picking up a bill that would make it easier for victims in child sex abuse cases to sue their assaulters.

    Earlier this year, a Senate panel amended the legislation to get rid of its retroactivity clause, which would have allowed victims to take legal action on assaults dating back decades.

    But advocates now say they want the original version, or nothing.

    State Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, is the bill’s primary sponsor and a survivor of sex abuse by a priest. He said the Senate’s changes were unacceptable.

    “There’s no way we would accept that … you do something, you do it right,” he said.

    Rozzi is aiming to get the bill on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk this session, with only a handful of voting days remaining.

    He said the retroactivity clause will be reinserted, and he is confident it’ll pass the House easily. But he’s not sure what the Senate will do.

    “If the Senate wants to deny, deny, deny, or try to put blame on me … if that is their way out of trying not to run this bill when we send it over on concurrence, then I know when I go home at night, I can sleep,” he said.

    The retroactivity clause has been opposed by the Catholic Church, among others.

    A Senate spokeswoman said the hangup over the clause is doing a disservice to victims by denying them the good the amended bill would do.

    She added that including the provision would have “all but guaranteed” a court challenge.

    Constitutionality of the retroactivity clause has been challenged before, though acting Attorney General Bruce Beemer recently advised that the provision is indeed legal.

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