Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations reform has been a long fought battle in the Commonwealth of PA. Over the past decades, there have been several changes to give victims more time to disclose abuse and seek justice and healing. Many high profile cases and movements in PA - and across our nation - shed necessary light on the epidemic of sexual violence in our society. More reforms are needed, however.
A key area that victims/survivors, as well as advocates, hoped to improve during childhood sexual statute of limitations reform opportunities, was adding a window for survivors whose statute had lapsed. There was lots of debate around this topic in 2018; read about some of those argument here (pdf).
Read about the current statute of limitations on both child and adult sexual offenses in Pennsylvania and the legislation proposed in 2019 (pdf). In 2019, the PA legislature eliminated the criminal statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse for any new cases in PA, and in an effort to address those victims/survivors whose statutes have already expired, the legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for victims/survivors to have access to a two year retroactive window to file civil claims. Any constitutional amendment will require the bill to pass again in the 2021-2022 legislative session, and then must go onto a ballot to be voted upon by the people of Pennsylvania.
The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) fully supports proposals aimed at the abolishment of all civil and criminal statute of limitations provisions. Read OVA’s written testimony submission to the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 2, 2019 (pdf).
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