HARRISBURG – A victims’ rights bill championed by Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) passed the House of Representatives today, clearing an important hurdle toward creating a constitutional amendment related to the statute of limitations following childhood sexual abuse.
“April 7-13 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and today in the state House we honored the victims and survivors of the Tree of Life Synagogue attack in Pittsburgh,” said Gregory. “The focus on victim protection today was uppermost in our minds and was further highlighted by the passage of my legislation to strengthen victim rights.”
Gregory’s House Bill 963
would provide a two-year window to submit claims in civil court if the statute of limitations has already expired for that victim.
The bill calls for amending Section 11 of Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution (known as the Remedies Clause) to create this window.
To become a constitutional amendment, the legislation must be approved in two consecutive sessions of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It would then go before voters as a referendum question.
Gregory said he wants victims to feel empowered to share their stories and face their abusers in court.
“I want people to feel like living in shame and guilt doesn’t have to happen,” Gregory said. “This bill is significant in allowing survivors of abuse to seek legal recourse. I believe this is important in the healing process.”
The two-year window would open immediately after voters’ approval.
House Bill 963 is companion legislation to House Bill 962
, an initiative authored by Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) to allow childhood victims to file suit until they reach age 55. That age is currently 30 for the statute of limitations.
House Bill 962 would also remove the statute of limitations altogether for criminal cases.
House Bills 962 and 963 are known as the Pennsylvania Hidden Predator Act. They now go to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Jim Gregory
80th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives