Jul. 02, 2024

HARRISBURG – A legislative measure that would create a two-year window of time in which survivors of childhood sexual abuse could file lawsuits passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today, according to Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair). 

When Gregory took office in 2019, he said from the first day he intended to be a champion for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. His early legislative work included allowing childhood victims to file lawsuits until they reach age 55 (up from age 30) and removing the statute of limitations altogether for criminal cases.

His efforts included a third provision – creating a two-year window of time in which survivors of any age alleging misconduct from any year in Pennsylvania could file suit.

That third provision became mired in a series of setbacks, the most prominent of which was a Pennsylvania Department of State error that kept the matter off voters’ ballots as a potential constitutional amendment question.

Today, the House took an important vote to potentially make that so-called “lookback window” a reality as a statute, Gregory said.

“A bill amendment that passed overwhelmingly today has given the lookback window its biggest opportunity to become law in quite some time,” Gregory said. “I’m hopeful this legislation clears the House and Senate, and gets to the governor for his signature, as he has long supported expanded rights for victims.”

The amendment was made to Senate Bill 186, which concerns updating the definitions of child pornography.

Gregory, a survivor of abuse himself, often cites studies that have found more than half of survivors first disclosed the abuse at age 50 or older. The vast majority of abuse goes unreported altogether.

“I was well into adulthood before I started grappling with my own experiences, so I know all too well the last thing a victim, particularly a child, is thinking about is ‘what are my legal options in the future?’” he said.

Senate Bill 186 is scheduled for a final vote in the House on Wednesday, then it would go to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Representative Jim Gregory
80th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives