*For immediate release, August 27, 2015
In the current 2015-2016 legislative session, Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering several bills to reform statute of limitations laws in Pennsylvania. These amendments would affect previously time-barred child molestation lawsuits and give a child molestation survivor the chance to seek justice by filing a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and any other parties which hid the abuse or allowed it to occur.
*Attorney Brian Kent has started a petition at change.org in an attempt to get legislators to pass these amendments. Please sign the petition here. We are aiming for 200 signatures by September 15.
The bills currently being considered include:
- Senate Bill 770,
- House Bill 951,
- Senate Bill 582, and
- House Bill 661.
Senate Bill 770 and House Bill 951 would create a 2 year civil window that would revive civil child abuse/molestation lawsuits which were previously doomed by old statute of limitations laws.
Senate Bill 582 would extend the civil statute of limitations period to age 50 and would also create a new exception to the principle of sovereign/governmental immunity in PA, thus allowing government entities to be sued for acts of child sex abuse. House Bill 661 would also create a similar exception to sovereign/governmental immunity.
As of April and May 2015, these bills have been forwarded to the Judiciary Committees in both the House and the Senate, where they await action. If no action is taken on these bills by the respective Judiciary Committees, they will effectively die.
Sign Our Petition at Change.org – Let Pennsylvania Lawmakers Know You Care About Child Molestation Survivors’ Civil Rights – CLICK HERE TO SIGN
Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations Laws in Child Molestation Lawsuits
Pennsylvania’s time limit laws pertaining to civil lawsuits for child molestation have undergone major changes since they were initially passed nearly four decades ago in 1978. See 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 5533.
In 2002, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws for civil child molestation lawsuits were amended to give additional time to survivors. That amendment gave survivors of child sex abuse until their 30th birthday to file civil lawsuits. The only catch, under this version of the law, is that the acts of abuse had to have occurred after its effective date (August 27, 2002).
Under the previous version of the law, individuals who experienced child molestation before August 27, 2002 only have until their 23rd birthday to file suit. Click here for an in depth analysis of how Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws affect civil sex abuse lawsuits.
Given the current time limit laws, the special 2 year time period contemplated by SB 770 and HB951 would basically allow individuals who experienced child sex abuse or molestation before 2002 to file their civil lawsuits.
Other states have passed such laws. California and Delaware were the first states. Georgia just passed a similar law this year.
Attorney Brian Kent takes particular interest in statute of limitations reform. Five years ago, he agreed to represent a man from Nevada in his child molestation lawsuit against a sitting state court judge in Delaware. The client was frustrated because the criminal statute of limitations had expired. Using the civil window, he filed the lawsuit on his own. Eventually, he met with Mr. Kent who agreed to take the case despite receiving backlash from the legal community in Delaware. Less than a year after Mr. Kent took the case on, the judge signed a written admission and agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to Mr. Kent’s client. The judge was later disbarred. Watch a YouTube video interview about this landmark child molestation case.
This tremendous story underscores the need for statute of limitations reform in Pennsylvania child molestation lawsuits. Abusers and perpetrators, who thrive on silence and lax statute of limitations laws, must know that they can and will be held accountable for their vile actions.
For more info about child molestation lawsuits in Pennsylvania, visit our law library.
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