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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 31, 2017 08:56 AM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Statute of Limitations
I intend to reintroduce House Bill 1947 from last session which will abolish the statute of limitation for the criminal prosecution of those who commit sexual abuse of a child, and extend the statute of limitation for civil lawsuits against those perpetrators. Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most vulgar, vile, and evil crimes that can be committed. It is my hope that this legislation will take steps to prevent childhood sexual abuse and hold accountable those people who perpetrate such evil.

Under current law, the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions alleging sexual offenses against a child is until the victim reaches age 50. This limit was established in 2006. Under current law, the statute of limitation for civil claim alleging sexual abuse against a child is until the victim reaches age 30. This limit was established in 2002.

My bill reforms these statutes of limitations in two ways. First, the bill eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for serious sexual offenses where the victim is a child. These offenses include rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, institutional sexual assault, incest, and forms of human trafficking involving sexual servitude. Second, the bill extends the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits until the victim reaches age 50.

In addition, this bill would amend the scope of sovereign immunity and governmental immunity by providing that immunity will be waived for conduct which constitutes a serious criminal offense of childhood sexual abuse, if the state or local agency acted with negligence. So, for the first time, governmental entities in Pennsylvania could be sued for negligence regarding childhood sexual abuse where, right now, they enjoy state immunity from such lawsuits.

To be clear, my bill will be prospective in nature, so that it only extends the statutes of limitations and waives sovereign immunity for those who commit childhood sexual abuse after the bill is enacted. If this bill is enacted, Pennsylvania would have one of the most victim-friendly statutes of limitations in the entire nation for childhood sexual abuse cases.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this bill.