HARRISBURG — April 10, 2019 – Sen. Larry Farnese (D- Philadelphia) today said he strongly supports legislation unveiled by Senate Democrats that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual offenses and allow victims to sue their abusers for damages. 

Farnese also applauded the efforts of Senate Democrats for crafting the new proposal.  

“I strongly support the efforts by legislators, victim advocates, and victims of sexual abuse to make sure that victims are given the due process they deserve,” Farnese said.  “I commend my Democratic colleagues who crafted this legislation and will work in concert with all who support our accountability efforts.”

Senate Bill 540 would implement the four recommendations of the Pennsylvania grand jury that spent two years investigating the pervasive sexual abuse of children by clergy and officials of the Catholic church in Pennsylvania. 

The bill would:

  • eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse, assault and misconduct for victims whose abuse happened at any age;
  • provide a two-year civil window to revive previously-expired statute of limitations claims; 
  • provide a six-month delay to the window for survivors who wish to voluntarily settle their claims outside the court system.

Under current law, criminal prosecutions for childhood sexual abuse can be pursued until the victim is 50 years of age.  Civil cases must be brought before the victim reaches 30 years of age. 

Farnese joined the bill’s sponsors at a Capitol news conference today. The news conference was led by the author of the measure Sens. Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware), and cosponsors Maria Collett (D- Bucks/Montgomery), Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Lindsey Williams (D- Allegheny), and Steve Santarsiero (D- Bucks).

“We need to marshal our strength and push this measure forward,” Farnese said.  “Those who were abused and all who were impacted deserve a fair, transparent and impartial process to pursue their claims.

“Removing the statute of limitations will provide access to the court for those abused years ago.” 

Farnese said he hopes there will be bipartisan support of the legislation. Last October, the Senate did not take up a bill that would have opened a two-year window to allow victims to pursue compensation.