HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Survivors of childhood sexual abuse took to the Pa. Capitol steps on Monday demanding justice. Specifically, they want the legislature to pass a bill opening a window for them to sue their abusers, even if the statute of limitations has run out.
They are not victims. They are survivors. But as children, they were victimized.
“I was violently raped by a group of teachers,” said Patrick Duggan, a sex abuse survivor.
And they believe the system is assaulting them again. An amendment to let them sue their abusers was botched. Now they want a straight-up law.
“For us it’s not about politics, it’s about doing the right thing,” said Amanda Behe, sister of Joey Behe.
Amanda Behe’s brother, Joey, was an altar boy abused by a priest who struggled with demons.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see justice. He actually gave up on the system,” Behe said.
Duggan has not given up. And won’t.
“Many priests and bishops shuffled pedophile priests from parish to parish and it’s time for Senators to quit shuffling paperwork around their desks,” Duggan said.
But Senate leaders have concerns about the constitutionality of retroactive relief bill.
Joey Behe’s mom doesn’t buy it.
“If they think it’s unconstitutional, pass it and let the judges decide. These people aren’t judges,” Joey’s mother Judy Deaven said.
Duggan says the motive behind the bill is justified.
“Maybe everything doesn’t line up with what you think about constitutionally. But extraordinary evil requires extraordinary results,” Duggan said.
And extraordinary courage to share deeply personal stories so publicly.
“You are the heroes in this story. People have heard your voices in Pennsylvania and across this globe,” Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
The House has already passed it. All eyes and pressure are now on the Senate.