HARRISBURG – Reps. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) and Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) expressed outrage today after learning the Pennsylvania Department of State failed to properly advertise a constitutional amendment that would give victims of childhood sexual abuse recourse in civil court.
Advertising the proposed amendment is a legal necessity before a referendum question can be put before voters in an election.
“We have lost two years of work expended by Sen. Lisa Baker, Rep. Rozzi, myself and, most importantly, dedicated Pennsylvanians who survived assault and want to recapture their voice in the courts. I am finding it difficult to express the anger and outrage on behalf of the victims that once again are left empty handed. This takes us back to the starting point and means the earliest voters can choose to grant these protections will be the 2023 primary election,” Gregory said.
Gregory and Rozzi say they prayed together on a call Monday, then resolved to push forward once again.
“This news today is absolutely heartbreaking for victims,” Rozzi said. “We were just days away from finalizing the newest bill’s passage in the Senate, which would have been in time for the constitutional amendment to be on the ballot in May. We are pursuing other legal alternatives and do not plan to stop until the matter is resolved. Waiting another term for victims to seek justice is unacceptable.”
“We will try to process this gut punch to our efforts and continue to fight,” Gregory said. “The gravity of this ‘error’ is of the magnitude that the secretary’s resignation will not be enough for the victims. I do not want to believe that this is willful misconduct on the part of someone, but I will need to be shown that is not the case.”
Gregory said he is livid that the Department of State’s administrative error has further denied survivors the ability to be heard by a judge.
“It is very difficult to accept our Commonwealth and secretary of State could not perform the duty to assure victims and the people of Pennsylvania their voices would be heard. These men and women lived the abuse and will have to live it again,” he said.
Gregory’s sponsored two bills to amend Section 11 of Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (known as the Remedies Clause) to create a two-year window for civil claims. Doing so would allow victims to file lawsuits if the statute of limitations has already expired for that victim.
The legislation was designed to put a referendum question to voters in the May 18 primary election.
The bills were drafted in conjunction with Rozzi, whose initiative raised the age by which childhood victims could file suit. Act 87 of 2020
set the age at 55, rather than the previous 30.
Representative Jim Gregory
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch