Common Meeting may think about plan to assist grownup survivors of kid intercourse abuse | Native Information
By John Finnerty
CNHI Harrisburg Bureau
The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to vote on Monday on whether to ask voters to approve an urgent amendment to the state constitution to open a window for complaints from adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
“At this late point in a debate that has gone on for over two decades, changing the Emergency Constitution is the most current and viable option to give thousands of abuse victims long-awaited access to justice,” said Senator Lisa Baker, R.-Lucerne County said. “By putting the question on the ballot, we are giving voters the opportunity to end the delay and say ‘yes’ to the kind of justice all Pennsylvanians deserve,” she said.
Senate Democrats on Friday called for the passage of a law that would immediately open a window to adult child abuse survivors to sue their perpetrators and organizations like the Catholic Church, which covered up predators.
State Senator Steve Santarsiero, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the move to open a window is an immediate solution even if Republicans in the General Assembly say they are ready to open the window to lawsuits by amending the state constitution .
The General Assembly was attempting to put an election question for the May primary when the Wolf Administration announced in January that the State Department had botched the public announcement requirements to keep the measure off the ballot. Former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar resigned after the misstep became known.
The move to amend the constitution came after years of lobbying survivors of priest abuse. Efforts took off in 2018 after a nationwide grand jury announced that church officials in six Catholic dioceses covered up the abuse by 300 priests.
State House lawmakers initially suggested that the situation could be resolved by passing an urgent constitutional amendment that would speed up the electoral issue and get it into effect by May. Under normal circumstances, proposed amendments to the Constitution must be voted on by the General Assembly for two consecutive terms before they are put to a vote.
The story continues below the video
The Senate and House of Representatives will meet next week.
Legislators must pass the resolution calling for an amendment to the Constitution before March 24th so that the issue will be on the ballot on May 18th. This emerges from a letter from Governor Tom Wolf to lawmakers made available by the State Department. While Wolf has repeatedly said that he thinks the General Assembly can open the window to complaints through a normal law, the governor points out in the letter that he is not at all opposed to the idea of a constitutional amendment.
“I fully support a proposed change to the emergency constitution,” said Wolf in the letter.
Santarsiero said Attorney General Josh Shapiro had indicated that the state could open a window to lawsuits through normal law. State Senator Katie Muth added that similar flashback windows have been used in other states for lawsuits and have not been challenged in court.
But Santarsiero said if the only solution Republicans would support was an urgent change to the constitution, Democrats would vote in favor.
“If that’s the best route,” he said. “We’ll support it.”
In early February, D-Berks County MP Mark Rozzi, who publicly announced that he had survived a priest abuse, announced that the chamber would vote in response to the constitutional amendment in case of an emergency botched State Department .
At the time, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff told R-Center County that he would agree to vote on the urgent amendment to the Constitution.
When asked after that week, Benninghoff said the leaders of the house are waiting to see first if the Senate acts on it. However, a plan released by Benninghoff’s office on Friday afternoon suggests the House plans to vote on the urgent change to the constitution next week.