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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 3, 2020 05:04 PM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth and Sen. Maria Collett, Sen. Timothy P. Kearney, Sen. Steven J. Santarsiero, Sen. Lindsey M. Williams, Sen. Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Abolishing the Statute of Limitations for ALL Survivors of Sexual Assault
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation that amends Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) to: 
  1. Eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitation for sexual abuse, assault and misconduct for all survivors, regardless of age, 
  2. Provide a 2 year civil window to revive previously expired SOL claims with a 6-month delay, and
  3. Prohibit non disclosure agreements that would otherwise prevent an adult survivor to report. 

Last session, we passed laws to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for childhood abuse and raise the age to file civil suits from 30 to 55. This law also gave survivors, whose abuse happened between ages 18-23, until age 30 to file civil claims and 20 years after the offense for criminal claims. While this opens the courthouse doors for some survivors, it still denies many a pathway to justice. 

While last session’s legislation will help those who are sexually assaulted as children, the criminal statute of limitations remains unchanged for those who are assaulted as adults and there is still a time limit for minors to file for civil suits. This crisis is indiscriminate of age; there are countless victims who have been subjected to sexual abuse, assault and misconduct in their lifetime. Furthermore, there should be no time limit to report - survivors should be able to come forward when they are ready. This legislation would abolish the criminal and civil statute of limitations for all survivors.

This legislation would create a statutory 2-year civil window with a 6-month delay should be provided to all survivors with expired civil claims, giving them access to due process now. The civil window is supported by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and has been upheld in seven other states. Victims who wish to come forward, but do not want to pursue a civil case now have a 6 month time period to reach a settlement with institutions. Institutions cannot pursue a settlement outside of the court process when the 6-month delay has expired. This 6-month delay will begin when the elimination of the statute of limitations comes into effect and before the 2-year window begins.

This legislation would also expand the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) prohibition to all survivors, regardless of when their assault occurred. This aspect of the legislation would prevent NDAs from stopping a survivor to come forward and report the assault. 

This is a moral imperative to bring relief to all people denied their day in court, indiscriminate of when the abuse, assault or misconduct occurred. While we cannot give back what was taken from these victims, we believe it is our obligation to ensure that access to justice and recourse is available whenever a victim decides to step forward.

Please join us in cosponsoring legislation that will empower all survivors to seek the justice they deserve.

Introduced as SB406