Push for law change to follow naming of accused priests


A Pennsylvania lawmaker sexually abused by a priest as a boy says he hopes the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg will support changes to state law now that it has released the names of 71 priests and others accused of child sexual abuse.

Berks County Democratic Rep. Mark Rozzi says Catholic officials in Pennsylvania have opposed changes to the statute of limitations.

The House two years ago overwhelmingly approved Rozzi’s legislation to lift the time limits for prosecutors to file criminal charges in child sexual abuse cases.

The Senate rejected key provisions, however, including one that would let victims sue abusers and institutions even after the time limit expired.

Experts had testified that the Legislature could not grant such retroactivity.

“We had lawyers and professors and constitutional law experts from Pennsylvania come in and testify that this was a concerning provision and would most likely be overturned by the state Supreme Court,” Senate Republican Caucus press secretary Jennifer Kocher said. “We didn’t want to put survivors on that roller coaster.”

“We need to be different,” Rozzi said. “We can’t stand with lobbyists or the Catholic church on this issue. We need to do what is right for Pennsylvania. There is nothing more compromising when it comes to our children. We are going to do it right.”

Lawmakers are expected to take another look at the legislation.

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