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Rozzi and others call on Senate Republican leadership to allow vote on statute of limitations

Why is it taking so long to get justice for abuse victims?

(Oct 17, 2016)

The Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight" showcases what is now recognized as the global tragedy of childhood sexual abuse. The opening scene captures the central conflict as it played out in the Archdiocese of Boston. The film begins with a late-night scene at a neighborhood police station. A local priest has been brought in for questioning as a distressed single mother and a livid uncle are in the back room complaining that a priest has molested the family's children. They are there to press criminal charges. But, with help from the assistant district attorney, the bishop is summoned to the station to quietly assure the family that the priest will be taken out of the parish and they're told, "This will never happen again." A rookie cop asks a veteran cop what the press will do when the charges are read at the arraignment. He's told, "What arraignment?" The older cop has seen this before. He knows the priest will walk. The bishop and priest then quietly slip out of the station, into the back seat of a black sedan, and into the dark night. Read more


Will stronger child sex abuse bill get a vote?

(Oct 15, 2016)

Rep. Mark Rozzi doesn't like hearing that it's too close to the election for legislators to support the strongest possible version of House Bill 1947, the child sexual abuse statute of limitations bill. "That's somewhat disconcerting to me," he said. "Any representative or senator who would make a comment like that should be voted out." Anyway, Rozzi isn't convinced voting in favor would be all that risky. "The majority of people in Pennsylvania know what's going on," he said. "They want this to happen." Read more


Editorial: It’s time to vote on House Bill 1947

(Oct 08, 2016)

The stage is set for an epic showdown in the state Capitol, pitting some of the most powerful forces in Pennsylvania against each other over the incredibly delicate, sensitive – and controversial – issue of child sexual abuse. The state House is once again expected to take up House Bill 1947, which would make some long-needed changes in the way child abuse cases are handled in the Commonwealth. It would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal charges in such cases, and also extend the window a victim has to bring civil actions against their abusers. Currently under the law, a victim has until 12 years after turns 18 to bring suit. That would be extended another 20 years, until they reach age 50, under the bill. Spurred by another grand jury report showing a sordid pattern of abuse and cover-up in the Johnstown-Altoona archdiocese just a few years after two grand jury reports spelled out similar problems in the Philadelphia archdiocese, state House members overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1947 last spring by a 180-15 vote. The measure included a controversial amendment include by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, himself a survivor of child sexual abuse by a priest, which would make the language in the bill retroactive, meaning victims from decades ago would have an opportunity today to seek civil redress against their abusers and the organizations who allegedly enabled them. The amendment was bitterly opposed by several groups, including the insurance industry, the Nati Read more


Pa. House to take up sex-abuse law to expand victims' rights

(Sep 28, 2016)

HARRISBURG - With only days remaining in the legislative session, the House intends to rewrite and send back to the Senate a contested child sex-abuse bill that would give victims the right to sue for decades-old abuses, leaders said Tuesday. The plan by Republican House leaders repudiates the work of GOP Senate counterparts, who gutted a House bill with a retroactive-lawsuit provision opposed by the Catholic Church and insurance lobbyists. The House intends to restore that language to the bill, potentially exposing private institutions to enormous financial liability by allowing lawsuits for abuse that happened years ago. Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) announced the decision at an hour-long Capitol news conference attended by, among others, Republican attorney general candidate Sen. John Rafferty Jr. (R., Montgomery); Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D., Berks); Rep. Frank Burns (D., Cambria); the state victims' advocate, and leaders of child-abuse victims' groups. Read more


Rozzi still pushing for overhaul of child sex abuse law

(Sep 28, 2016)

HARRISBURG - State House leaders plan to take steps next month to revive a proposal that would enable some people sexually abused as children to sue even if their window to do so has already closed. House officials said Tuesday the plan is to add a retroactive provision back into a bill that would overhaul time limits for victims to take legal action. “That's where the members are and we'll see how it goes,” said Stephen A. Miskin, a spokesman for the House's Republican leadership. Read more


Window for sex-abuse claims could open after all

(Sep 28, 2016)

HARRISBURG — A push to allow victims of clergy sex abuse the right to sue for damages in old cases is barreling toward a vote, with support from key state officials. The House last spring opened a window allowing victims of old sex crimes to sue for damages. The window was snapped closed by the Senate, which voted only to extend the statute of limitations on those cases moving forward. Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County, who has pushed to allow victims to seek justice against their molesters and church leaders who've covered up the crimes, said he believes House lawmakers will revive the retroactivity clause, giving the Senate another chance to pass it this fall. Read more


Pa. investigating six Catholic dioceses for handling of sex abuse

(Sep 28, 2016)

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he testified before a grand jury in August and claimed people would be "shocked" by the results of the probe into the Diocese of Allentown. Rozzi was sexually abused by a priest in the Diocese of Allentown as a child and is in the midst of a legislative battle to push a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims. Several Catholic organizations, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, have fought against that legislation, saying it treats public and private institutions with different standards. Read more


Rozzi Fights for Statute of Limitations Reform

(Sep 27, 2016)

Pa. state Rep. Mark Rozzi joined advocates, survivors and legislators to call on House leadership to run H.B. 1947 with the retroactive component, giving victims of sexual abuse a chance to have their day in court. Read more


Rozzi: Victims have waited long enough for justice

(Sep 27, 2016)

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.” Read more


Statue of Limitations Reform Constitutionality : Kermit Roosevelt

(Sep 27, 2016)

Kermit Roosevelt, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the constitutionality of the retroactive provision removed from H.B. 1947 and his support of state Rep. Mark Rozzi’s effort to reinsert it back into the bill. Read more


Statue of Limitations Reform Works: Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish

(Sep 27, 2016)

Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish discusses her experiences as an advocate for statute of limitations reform in Pennsylvania and other states and the need for a retroactive provision to ensure justice. Read more


Berks lawmaker seeks stronger child sex abuse lawsuits bill

(Sep 27, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania lawmaker who has told of his victimization as a child by a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Allentown said he'll keep fighting for legislation to allow onetime-child sexual abuse victims to sue for damages. Read more


Lawmaker seeks stronger child sex abuse lawsuits bill

(Sep 27, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania lawmaker who has told of his victimization as a child by a Roman Catholic priest said Tuesday that he will keep fighting for legislation to allow onetime-child sexual abuse victims to sue for damages, despite the measure’s rejection in the Senate as the legislative session winds down. Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, is backed by top House lawmakers, victim advocates and both major party candidates for state attorney general — Republican John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro — as part of wider legislation to respond to child sexual abuse cover-ups. The provision would revive the ability of people to sue for damages if they are now older than the current legal age limit of 30 to sue. It is opposed by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, which represents for-profit insurers. Jennifer Storm, the state’s victim advocate, said that the provision is the right thing to do for victims and that she did not want to have to tell age-limited victims, “sorry, today is not your day,” if the Legislature decides against helping them. Read more


House takes another whack at controversial child sex abuse bil

(Sep 27, 2016)

House lawmakers are, once again, picking up a bill that would make it easier for victims in child sex abuse cases to sue their abusers. Early this summer, a Senate panel amended the legislation to get rid of its retroactivity clause, which would have allowed victims to take legal action on assaults dating back decades. But advocates now say they want the original version, or nothing. Representative Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, is both the bill's primary sponsor and a survivor of child sex abuse by a priest. He said the Senate's changes were unacceptable. Read more


Rozzi vows to get retroactivity clause back in abuse bill

(Sep 27, 2016)

In April, the state House passed a bill to extend the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases, which also would have given past victims of abuse more time to file a civil suit. The Senate sent it back without the retroactive clause. Now, a state lawmaker from Berks County is vowing to get the retroactivity back in the proposal. Six of Pennsylvania's eight Catholic dioceses, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, are now under investigation by the state Attorney General's office for possible clergy sex abuse. The new probes are spurring advocates like Democratic Representative Mark Rozzi of Berks County to push harder for passage of legislation to allow past victims to sue. He says he believes the House will stand united, as it did earlier this year. But if they can't get the measure passed with the retroactive measure included this session, he will introduce the same bill again in January. "I'm not going to sit there, pat myself on the back for half a loaf when we have children in this commonwealth suffering this horrific sexual abuse that goes on," he says. Rozzi says if senators refuse to help past victims, they will have to deal with the consequences from the public. Read more


Sex-abuse victims make new push to change Pa. law

(Sep 21, 2016)

With the fate of a child sex-abuse bill on the line in Harrisburg, clergy sex-abuse victims and their relatives told their stories Tuesday as part of a renewed push to change Pennsylvania law so victims can sue for decades-old attacks. A bill that passed the House in April would have, among other things, expanded the statute of limitations so victims age 50 and under could sue the men or women who abused them decades ago, as well as the institutions that supervised them. Citing concerns about its constitutionality and after critics, notably the Catholic Church, warned the measure could unfairly cripple some parishes, the Senate removed that provision. Read more


Advocates demand change in law to aid child sex abuse victims

(Sep 21, 2016)

PHILADELPHIA, PA National advocates for victims of child sexual abuse don't find it a coincidence that Pennsylvania has been home to some of the most notorious abuse scandals. The state's time limits for victims to pursue lawsuits or criminal charges, known as statutes of limitation, are on the more-restrictive side. And that signals to pedophiles that it's a safe place to abuse kids, advocates for victims said. Read more


Abuse victim in 'Spotlight': Extend statute of limitations in Pennsylvania

(Sep 20, 2016)

"We have a right to justice," Rozzi said. "It is time for anybody in our way to get out of our way and open that door to justice." Rozzi was joined by Phil Saviano, a leading activist within the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and Eric MacLeish, a Boston attorney who represented hundreds of victims abused by priests. Both were featured in "Spotlight." Several sexual abuse victims from Pennsylvania also spoke. Read more


Clergy abuse news conference: 3 takeaways

(Sep 20, 2016)

Days after confirming a statewide grand jury investigation into six Catholic dioceses, including Harrisburg, State Rep. Mark Rozzi stood with survivors of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia to issue a call to action. Rozzi and others spoke in support of statute of limitations reform that includes a retroactive provision to allow adults who were victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice. Rozzi said a retroactive provision that was included in House Bill 1947, which would reform the statute of limitations for civil action in Pennsylvania, was "gutted" by the Senate during the last legislative session. Rozzi said he hopes to reintroduce the legislation with the retroactive provision during the next legislative session. Read more


Rep. Mark Rozzi pushes for statute of limitations reform for clergy abuse cases

(Sep 20, 2016)

PHILADELPHIA - A Berks County lawmaker said Tuesday that victims of clergy abuse should be able to seek justice at any age. Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Rozzi, a victim of child sexual abuse by a priest, joined several other victims and child abuse experts at a conference of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Philadelphia. Rozzi has been making headlines as of late after talking about his own experience. He revealed to 69 News last week that he was called to testify before a grand jury about clergy abuse within the Diocese of Allentown, which includes the five-county region of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill. Read more