Laws Sex Abuse
Harrisburg Capitol Building Matt Rourke/AP Photo

In this Oct. 7, 2015 photo, people walk past the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa.

February 01, 2017

Bill to extend statutes of limitations for child sex abuse passes in Pa. Senate

The Pennsylvania Senate has advanced legislation that would lengthen both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for future cases involving child sex abuse.

Senate Bill 261 was passed unanimously Wednesday when 48 lawmakers voted to give victims more time to pursue prosecution and litigation against their abusers. The bill was introduced on Monday by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (Republican-25th District).

The bill would eliminate the statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions for child sex abuse and allow victims to sue their abusers, conspirators and/or individuals who were aware of the abuse but failed to report the matter to law enforcement. Under current law, victims must sue before turning 30 years old.

The legislation would also allow victims to pursue additional damages against other parties up until age 50.

Before becoming law, the bill must be considered and approved by the House. However, the two chambers were unable to agree on a similar bill during last year's legislative session.

Last April, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill with identical extensions to the statutes of limitations but added a provision allowing past victims to retroactively sue abusers. Questioning its constitutionality, state senators removed the provision and sent it back to the House. The session ended without an agreement.