Posted on Mon, Nov. 20, 2006
TIME TO REVISE PATHETIC SEX-ABUSE LAWS
PA. SENATE DOESN'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO APPROVE SB 1054
UNCONSCIONABLE. That's what we all called the actions of theCatholic Church hierarchy for their years of standing by and lettingevil thrive by denying some priests were sexually abusing children.
If the Pennsylvania Senate goes on break this week without passingSenate Bill 1054, which would expand the state's pathetic laws on sexabuse, then how can we do anything but draw parallels between thechurch and lawmakers who seem willing to stand by and let abuse happen?
The law, championed by District Attorney Lynne Abraham, was writtenafter a scathing grand jury report last September. While detailinghorrific tales of abuse by clergy, it also illuminated how little thestate laws did to protect young victims' rights. The bill would:
• Require those charged with caring forchildren to report suspected abuse regardless of whether a childreports the abuse in person. (Under current law, when a child'sparents, and not the actual child, reported abuse to an archdiocese,the church wasn't legally obligated to report the crime to the police. )
• Make the laws endangering the welfareof children apply to supervisors and employers who place children inthe care of those known to be dangerous to children. (This would haveheld accountable church officials who knowingly moved offending priestsfrom parish to parish instead of dealing directly with the crime.)
• Allow victims of childhood sex abuseto bring charges against abusers by age 50; the cutoff age now is 30.This is one of the more contested areas of the bill.
The Senate passed the bill in June. But as recently as last month,when the House failed to vote on the bill, and threatened to send itback to committee for revision, it was expected to die. One of itsprincipal sponsors, Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) declared, "It's got nochance."
But late last week, the House overwhelmingly approved an amendedbill. The Senate could vote on it today or tomorrow; after that, theybreak until January.
It's important this vote happens before that break. When lawmakers return, they begin a two-year session.
A two-year delay for a bill like this? Unconscionable.
Do your part: call or e-mail your senator, or any or all those below and urge them to vote.
David J. Brightbill, 717-787-5708, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Jubelirer, 717-787-5490;
Brightbill and Jubelirer are lame ducks; the following are vying for leadership positions: Jeffrey Piccola, 717-787-6801, email@example.com
Dominic Pileggi, 717-787-4712;
Joseph Scarnati, 717-787-7084;
Jake Corman, 717-787-1377;
for a listing of alternate locations.