HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Victims of child sexual abuse often don't fully grasp what has happened to them until they are in their 30's, 40's or even their 50's - and by then the statute of limitations to sue or prosecute has run out.
Legislation introduced in the state House would end the legal time limits in child sex abuse cases. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, D-Philadelphia.
"It is time for broken lives to be put together," Bishop said during a Tuesday rally in support of her bill.
Current law prohibits a person who was sexually assaulted as a child from pursuing criminal charges after they reach the age of 30, and from filing a civil lawsuit after age 50.
Supporters of Bishop's bill said the law is unfair and allows criminals to go unpunished.
Pam Erdely is one of those supporters and said she was molested by a nun in the 70's. Some 25 years later, therapy helped but the courts didn't. The statute of limitations had expired.
"The church would rather let my life be sacrificed than be held accountable," Erdely said at the rally.
While giving victims the right to sue their abusers might help them, giving prosecutors the right to jail those criminals would help everybody else. Katherine Spoerl's son was abused by a priest in grade school.
"This six-foot, 200-pound pedophile is known to abuse 100 children and he is still, still, out there," Spoerl said.
Another proposed bill would open a two-year window for abuse victims who had lost their chance to pursue legal remedies.
Supporters said the legislation is opposed by lawyers for the Catholic church and insurance companies that would be on the hook for settlements.