Monday, June 25, 2012

Pennsylvania seeks to do away with SOL for child sex crimes

For more than six years Pennsylvania legislators had been pushing for a law that would give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file civil suits or criminal complaints against their alleged abusers.

Last week with the national spotlight on former Pennsylvania State University assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child-abuse case the stalled legislation moved forward with other state initiatives to protect children.

House Judiciary Chairman, Ron Marsico consolidated the bills and put it to a vote. It passed unanimously, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He said he was yielding to pressure from colleagues and would have preferred to wait until a task force he had formed on child-abuse legislation in the wake of the Sandusky scandal issued its final recommendations this fall. "However, a number of legislators have been insisting on our committee to act now, before the task force has completed its job," Marsico told the Inquirer.

The amended bill would do away with the statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions in child-sexual-assault cases. It also would extend the statute of limitations in civil suits until the accuser reaches age 50.

Under current law, victims have until age 50 to bring criminal charges and until age 30 to sue alleged abusers.  The current law took effect on January 28, 2007. That was a significant change within only the last ten years. Prior to 2002, the statute ran for only five years after the victims 18th birthday. In 2002, the statute of limitation was extended to 12 years.

The measure's fate remains in question, however, since it must still be approved by the Rules Committee before it can get to the full House. A spokesman for that committee's chairman, Majority Leader Mike Turzai, told the Inquirer that Turzai would review the bill.

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