Rozzi: Victims have waited long enough for justice

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, today stood with advocates, survivors and members of the General Assembly and called on Republican House leadership to run H.B. 1947, a statute of limitations reform bill, with a retroactive component included.

“When I ran for this office, I was on a personal mission to shake open the log jam that I faced when looking for justice. I didn’t realize the magnitude of this epidemic until, as a state representative, my office started receiving letters, emails, phone calls and personal visits from victims from every corner of the state and beyond,” Rozzi said. “I hear my story with every story told to me. We, our families and friends, have been gravely wronged by these predators and those institutions that will do anything to protect their reputations and coffers.”

At the news conference, Rozzi discussed H.B. 1947, a statute of limitations reform bill that passed the House 180-15, but was significantly weakened by the Senate in June through the removal of a retroactive provision that would have permitted some victims to file civil actions against their abusers that otherwise would have been barred by the statute of limitations.

“Attorney General Bruce Beemer has publically attested to the constitutionality of the bill, and stands behind the recommendations of his office from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown grand jury report six months ago,” Rozzi said. “Any question about constitutionality should be left to the courts.”

Rozzi said he is confident that H.B. 1947 will be considered again by the House with a retroactive provision included before the end of session. He also discussed ongoing investigations of dioceses throughout Pennsylvania.

“Following the flood of hotline calls received in the aftermath of the grand jury report, Attorney General Beemer has announced that a statewide grand jury is investigating allegations of child sex abuse in the remaining six Roman Catholic dioceses,” Rozzi said. “There is no good excuse to hide behind. Do we really need another grand jury report to tell us more unimaginable horror stories to do the right thing? I think not. Let’s do it right. Victims have waited long enough.”    

Speakers at the news conference included Sen. John Rafferty; Jennifer Storm, state victim advocate; Delilah Rumburg, chief executive officer, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; Alison Hill, licensed psychologist with Berks Counseling Associates, founding member of the Children’s Alliance Center of Berks County; and Charles Gallagher, senior prosecutor for the 2003 and 2005 Philadelphia Archdiocese grand juries under former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham. Also in attendance were state Reps. Frank Burns, Bryan Barbin, Mike Regan, Pat Harkins and Pam DeLissio.