The clock has struck midnight, and time has run out on lawmakers passing a bill to change the state’s statute of limitations for victims of child sex crimes.
The focus now is on President Pro-Temp Joe Scarnati, who didn’t bring the bill to a vote last night. He’s now defending that decision.
The sticking point of Senate Bill 261 was an amendment that would open a two-year window to allow victims of abuse that occurred outside the current statute of limitations to file a civil suit; a recommendation made by the grand jury.
Senator Joe Scarnati, however, says that was unconstitutional. “Retroactive statute of limitation changes would violate the remedies clause in our constitution.”
But, despite that, the Senator proposed Wednesday to keep the civil window, but only for perpetrators, not institutions. “I also don’t want any organization to be bankrupt, because of a window that would result in victims not receiving compensation.”
Attorney General Josh Shapiro says, “Senators also made it clear that their concerns over constitutionality, over a civil window, were always just an excuse.” Shapiro blasted the Senate for failing to call the bill for a vote. “They turned their backs on these victims.”
Scarnati says, “I’m a father of three children. I lost a child. And to say that I stand with pedophiles is insulting and it’s disgusting.”
Wednesday evening, House leaders said a bill that did not include institutions in a civil window wouldn’t pass, bringing discussion in the Senate to a halt. Senator Scarnati, though, says he’s still open to calling the Senate back to negotiate. “Come to the middle. Come to the table. Bring me your ideas, rather than simply ‘no’ to everything that I have put up.”
–Matt Heckel, Jet 24 Action News