To see a yearly archive of CHILD USA in the news, click a year from below


Prince Andrew, Bob Dylan, Catholic priests and the Child Victims Act

Ritu Prasad & Holly Honderich | September 3, 2021

A change in law in New York has allowed for the filing of more than 9,000 child abuse claims – including cases against Prince Andrew, Bob Dylan and high-profile Catholic priests – previously blocked by the state’s statute of limitations.

Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick pleads not guilty to child sex assault; some in crowd outside yell, ‘Shame on you!’

Kurt Shillinger and Michelle Boorstein | September 3, 2021

DEDHAM, Mass. — Disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 91, in street clothes, stooped and using a walker, was arraigned Friday in a suburban Boston courtroom on three counts of criminal child sex abuse.

Metro Monitor NewsTracker Report | September 1, 2021

Still, the bill was not a complete victory for advocates, many of whom had been pushing for a total ban of child marriage, which would outlaw the practice for those under 18. “This legislation is an important step toward ending child marriage in North Carolina and instituting more protections for children,” Cooper said in a statement announcing the bill’s passage.

The big difference between this pandemic and the one that killed 50 million people

Richard Galant | August 29, 2021

The flu pandemic that spiraled around the world a century ago had been under way for a year and a half when a University of Missouri preventive medicine professor made an admission: the effort to fight the disease had been a “dismal failure.”

A Tale of Two States and the Roads Taken and Blocked to Child Protection

Marci A. Hamilton | August 14, 2021 

On August 14, 2021, New York and Pennsylvania will show their true colors when it comes to taking child protection seriously. New York is striding into the future of child protection while Pennsylvania is mired in toxic politics that endanger children.

Opinion: Statute of limitations laws protect predators – not children

Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann | August 13, 2021

The citizens of Ohio must once and for all rip the legislative duct tape off the mouths of countless child sexual abuse victims. As a concerned parent, it just seems that we Ohioans should finally hold our lawmakers to task and insist that they remove “Statutes of Limitations” for prosecution of sexual abuse for three very important reasons.

Victims of child sex abuse continue to be denied justice in Pennsylvania | Opinion

David Clohessy and Jillian Ruck | August 11, 2021 

With each passing day, Pennsylvania kids become more at risk of abuse while just across the state line, kids in New Jersey and New York are becoming dramatically safer. This may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. A recent state Supreme Court ruling illustrates the problem and shows why.

Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick criminally charged with sexual assault of teenager in the 1970s

Sarah Pulliam Bailey | July 29, 2021 

Defrocked Catholic cardinal Theodore McCarrick was criminally charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1974, according to court documents obtained by The Washington Post.

New Maine civil claims law recognizes childhood sexual abuse victims’ reality | July 14, 2021

Mills signed a law that will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil claims, irrespective of when the abuse occurred. This is a monumental shift in the law, and the governor and the Legislature should be applauded for amending the law in a way that acknowledges the reality faced by victims of childhood sex abuse.

Aurora teen fighting to end child marriage in Nebraska

Lauryn Bentley | July 6, 2021

AURORA, Neb. — Journey Noyes from Aurora has been a Girl Scout for years, and she said as she enters adulthood and heads off to college, she wants to use what she’s learned in the program to help other young women in the state.

Letter to the editor: New Maine civil claims law recognizes childhood sexual abuse victims’ reality

Taylor Asen | July 1, 2021

Last week, Gov. Mills signed a law that will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil claims, irrespective of when the abuse occurred. This is a monumental shift in the law, and the governor and the Legislature should be applauded for amending the law in a way that acknowledges the reality faced by victims of childhood sex abuse.

Breaking Down The P.A. Budget | June 28, 2021

Ohio House approves transgender sports ban for women’s athletics

Tyler Buchanan | June 25, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ohio lawmakers approved a bill Thursday to allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, with Republicans adding an unrelated provision to ban transgender girls from competing in women’s high school and college sports.

The last-minute addition of a provision dealing with the transgender sports ban set off a chaotic debate on the Ohio House of Representatives floor. Republican lawmakers defended the amendment as necessary to preserve the integrity and fairness of women’s athletics. Democrats condemned the effort as anti-LGBTQ+ and as being rushed through without a full legislative process.

All Things Considered | June 17, 2021


Lawsuits claim former Newark educators sexually abused students decades ago

James M | June 3, 2021

The Newark school district is facing multiple lawsuits from former students who claim that school administrators sexually abused them decades ago. The suits are among a slew of recent cases accusing New Jersey schools, churches, and other institutions of failing to protect children from past abuse.

The alleged abuse in Newark occurred between the early 1970s and 1990, according to three lawsuits filed in New Jersey Superior Court over the past few months by former Newark Public Schools students. The lawsuits claim the former students’ schools and the district neglected their duty to prevent abuse, which allegedly left the students with emotional and psychological scars that have persisted for decades.

Corporal punishment is still common in American schools. Here’s why it should be banned.

Marci Hamilton and Jillian Ruck | May 13, 2021

When news broke recently that a 6-year-old student was beaten with a wooden paddle by her school principal in Florida, many people likely had to double check that it wasn’t a story from the 1950s.

In a sickening video, shot by the student’s mother on her mobile phone, the child, who is crying, is bent over a chair. Principal Melissa Carter of Central Elementary School in Clewiston then hits the girl three times with a large paddle. The state attorney’s office announced Friday that the principal did not commit a crime in beating the child.

Incidents like the Florida case, while seemingly relics of the past, still happen every day in classrooms across the country.

Louisiana’s new child sexual abuse law surprises advocates, legislators

David Hammer | June 15, 2021

There’s a sea-change in perceptions about child sexual abuse, and that change surprised many when it came to Louisiana in the form of a major change in the law this week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill Monday that passed both houses of the Louisiana Legislature unanimously last week. Going forward, it eliminates any deadline, previously set at age 28, for victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers or those who allowed the abuse to occur.

Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse Survivor Opens Up About Her Alleged Abuse

Philadelphia | June 12, 2021

A former sexual abuse victim breaks her silence over the alleged abuse she suffered from a former teacher at her Catholic Highschool. NBC10’s Jim Rosenfield has the special report.

Lawsuits claim former Newark educators sexually abused students decades ago

Patrick Wall | June 3, 2021

The Newark school district is facing multiple lawsuits from former students who claim that school administrators sexually abused them decades ago. The suits are among a slew of recent cases accusing New Jersey schools, churches, and other institutions of failing to protect children from past abuse.

The alleged abuse in Newark occurred between the early 1970s and 1990, according to three lawsuits filed in New Jersey Superior Court over the past few months by former Newark Public Schools students. The lawsuits claim the former students’ schools and the district neglected their duty to prevent abuse, which allegedly left the students with emotional and psychological scars that have persisted for decades.

Child sex abuse survivors, supporters pressure Pa. Senate leader Kim Ward to bring bill to vote

Deb Erdley | May 26, 2021

Survivors of clergy child sexual abuse turned up the heat this week on state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, depositing a pouch of silver coins on the Hempfield Republican’s desk and labeling her a “Judas.”

Ward’s failure to schedule a Senate vote on a bill that would provide a day in court for child sexual abuse survivors whose cases fall outside the Pennsylvania statute of limitations is a bitter betrayal, survivors said. They likened it to the 30-piece bounty that disciple Judas Iscariot accepted before double-crossing Jesus Christ with a kiss at the Last Supper, as told in the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible.

Column: How the Church of Scientology hopes to quash a lawsuit by Danny Masterson’s accusers

Robin Abcarian | May 29, 2021

Danny Masterson will soon face trial on charges he raped three women, and that’s a victory of sorts.

In the past, prosecutors have often taken the easier road of not pursuing charges against alleged serial sexual assaulters like Masterson, a lifelong member of the Church of Scientology who rose to fame as a star of the hit TV sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

But fame and power no longer have the same inoculating effects for alleged perpetrators that they used to.

Sex abuse victims urging republican senators to help pass legislation

Megan Magensky | May 25, 2021

DAUPHIN COUNTY — Dozens of sex abuse survivors and their families rallying at the capitol Monday urging lawmakers to bring House Bill 951 to the Senate floor.

It was an emotional rally as several survivors shared their stories of abuse.

The Wolf administration failed to advertise an amendment that would give victims of sex abuse more time to seek justice in court to get it on the ballot in May. Former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar resigned over the matter in February.

Now the survivors and advocates are pushing lawmakers to pass legislation.

Sen. Ward: Stop protecting Pennsylvania’s hidden sexual predators

Marci Hamilton | June 7, 2021

Survivors of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania have waited far too long for a chance to bring their abusers to court and finally begin the healing process. It has been 16 years since the first major grand jury report on sex abuse was released by District Attorney Lynne Abraham on the Philadelphia Archdiocese and nearly three years since Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report that revealed the Catholic cover up was an ongoing problem across 6 other dioceses.

These survivors – not to mention the many more victims of abuse that occurred in every other context – remain barred from pursuing justice due to our commonwealth’s long-standing restrictive statutes of limitations (SOL).

Lawmakers pause sex abuse bill as critics cast doubt on constitutionality

Michael Karlik | May 26, 2021

The House Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on legislation that would give victims of past sexual abuse access to the justice system, after its sponsors requested more time to negotiate amendments in response to concerns about liability for the government and the difficulty of defending against decades-old misconduct.

Both proponents and critics of Senate Bill 88 conceded during a nearly three-hour hearing on Tuesday that the landmark victim rights measure would ultimately end up before the Colorado Supreme Court.

WHAT THE ZUCK? Facebook ‘giving free pass to terrorists’ with secret texts, MI5 chief warns

Sean Keach | May 21, 2021

This would mask messages so that no one can read them.

It’s ostensibly to boost user privacy, blocking out Facebook snooping and some hack attacks – but also prevents security services from gaining access to messages too.

Facebook’s WhatsApp is already encrypted and it’s optional on Messenger, but not on Instagram yet.

“Decisions taken in California boardrooms are every bit as relevant to our ability to do our jobs as decisions taken in Afghanistan or Syria,” MI5 boss Ken McCallum explained during an interview on Times Radio.

Palm Beach County’s handling of Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t corrupt, Florida investigation finds

Julie K. Brown | May 10, 2021

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has cleared Palm Beach state prosecutors and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office of any wrongdoing in connection with the lenient criminal prosecution and liberal jail privileges received by sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

FDLE investigators found no evidence that Barry Krischer, who was the Palm Beach state attorney when the case was investigated in 2005-2006, or his assistant state attorney on the case, Lanna Belohlavek, committed any crimes, accepted any bribes or gifts, or did anything improper in their handling of the case, according to a 24-page summary of the state probe into their actions obtained Monday by the Miami Herald.

Abuse survivors pressure Senate

John Finnerty | May 9, 2021

HARRISBURG — Adult survivors of sex abuse by priests will rally at the state Capitol today to call for the state Senate to take final action to send Gov. Tom Wolf a bill that would allow them and other survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue their abusers and the organizations that protected the predators.

House Bill 951 passed the state House by a vote of 149-52 in March. It then passed the Senate judiciary committee by a vote of 11-3, including the support of Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman, R-Centre County and Senate Judiciary Committee chairwoman Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne County.

Will NY Pols Let Adult Sexual-Abuse Survivors Get Justice?

Emily Shugerman | May 7, 2021

The abuse was a secret Tanisha Johnson says she kept for years. First, she says, she felt too unstable to report it: debilitated from the daily migraines for which she had gone to the doctor in the first place; addicted to the opioids she claims he purposefully overprescribed for her. Later, she worried she wouldn’t be believed. Who would take the word of a queer Black woman living in public housing over the word of a prominent neurologist? Who would believe that a department chairman would grope her, expose himself, even force her to perform oral sex on him—all from his offices in major East Coast hospitals?

Even as more women came forward with strikingly similar stories, Johnson says she held back for one more reason: her teenage son. She feared that speaking out would devastate him and fracture their close relationship. When she finally worked up the nerve—when he, in fact, encouraged her to go to the authorities—it was too late. The statute of limitations in her case had expired.

How to help victims of sexual abuse get justice: Eliminate statute of limitations

Marci Hamilton | May 3, 2021

In the United States, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience sexual abuse every year. On college campuses, 13% of students experience rape or sexual assault. And for those brave enough to come forward, our legal system actively works against them — often precluding them from pursuing justice altogether through outdated state laws with statutes of limitations.

For example, survivors of abuse at Ohio State University have been prevented from seeking justice under state causes of action or Title IX by narrow statutes of limitations, even though survivors of abuse in other states don’t encounter the same barriers.

Justice must be available to abuse survivors whenever they are ready to come forward, regardless of geographic boundaries.

This is the true ‘gold standard” for child protection in Pa. | Opinion

Marci Hamilton | April 30, 2021

It’s been nearly three years since a grand jury report initiated by Attorney General Josh Shapiro found that bishops and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years.

In a state such as Pennsylvania, where one in every four residents is Catholic, the report was both scathing and sobering – revealing more than 1,000 identifiable victims were abused at the hands of bishops, priests and other leaders of the Catholic Church.

Even before Shapiro’s report, in 2005, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham released a jaw-dropping, lengthy report about child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia which gave a detailed account of the horrific abuse of hundreds of children by more than 60 priests and the cover-up by leaders of the church.

Another delay for older victims of childhood sexual assault seeking justice

Joe Wojtas | April 29, 2021

Older victims of childhood sexual assault, who currently are prohibited from suing their attackers, will have to wait at least another year to see if the state statute of limitations can be changed.

That’s because no bill to do so was introduced in the current General Assembly session or during the 2020 session, both of which saw a limited number of bills raised amid restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That effort to change the law has been headed by state Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, who co-introduced a sexual harassment and sexual assault bill in 2019. Among its provisions, it called for the elimination of the statute of limitations for 26 months to give childhood sexual assault victims who are older than 48, the cutoff age at the time, an opportunity to file lawsuits. But that provision was stripped from the bill before it was approved. The new law did create a legislative task force to study the issue and make recommendations and increased the cutoff age to file suits from 48 to 51.

Lawsuit alleges New Jersey county was aware of allegations of sexual abuse by former sheriff and failed to act

News 12 Staff | April 22, 2021

Edward Bullock, the former sheriff of New Jersey’s Warren County, admitted to sexually abusing boys at the county’s now-closed youth shelter. Four of his alleged victims are suing the county, alleging it failed to protect them. And legal documents obtained by Team 12 show that county officials were warned about Bullock’s behavior. They also shed light on the county’s legal defense, which a leading child abuse advocate calls “reprehensible.”

“Warren County doesn’t want to admit the truth,” says one plaintiff, who Team 12 agreed to identify only by his initials, W.M. “Warren County wants to keep the darkest chapter in its history buried, and hope it never sees the light.”

In January 1988, W.M. was 11 years old. He says Bullock picked him up at the Hackettstown Police Station after his mother had left him unattended. It wasn’t the first time Bullock had picked him up.

Bill aiding abuse survivors clears critical Pa. Senate committee hurdle. But will it see a vote?

Elizabeth Hardison | April 21, 2021

A bill that gives victims of child sexual abuse a fresh chance to sue abusers cleared a key committee vote in the state Senate on Wednesday, but its fate remains uncertain due to opposition from the chamber’s second-ranking Republican.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-3 to approve a bill creating a two-year window for victims of child sex abuse to revive old cases in civil court. The Legislature has been considering versions of the proposal since 2018, following a string of high-profile child sex abuse scandals in Pennsylvania.

The measure sponsored by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, now advances to the Senate floor, where it must be considered three times and pass a final vote before it can go to Gov. Tom Wolf.

Child sex abuse survivors hopeful Pa. legislature passes 2-year civil suit window

Sarah Cassi | April 19, 2021

A crowd of childhood sexual abuse survivors, their families, and supporters rallied Monday in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania legislature to finally open a legal window for abuse victims to sue their abusers.

“We are close and we are hopeful, which is why we’re here,” said Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of Child USA. “It’s time in Pennsylvania to do the right thing…No more waiting, no more games. It’s time. It’s time for a window.”

There was a moment of silence honoring the abuse survivors who did not live to see the legislation cross the finish line.

Child sex abuse law reform moves to Pa. Senate: Why some stakeholders are optimistic this time

Ivey DeJesus | April 7, 2021

Efforts to reform Pennsylvania’s child sex crimes law have long been a moving target.

For years, victims of child sexual abuse and their advocates have been pushing legislation but have come up short.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to give some child sex abuse victims a two-year period to file claims in civil court, which would help those who were assaulted years ago and have long passed the deadline to seek legal action. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

The measure, which the House approved a vote of 149-52, would allow lawsuits outside the statute of limitations against both public and private entities. Some legislators are aiming to change the state law while also pursuing an amendment to the state constitution.

Amendment Allowing Child Sexual Abuse Survivors To Sue Perpetrators Could Be Years Away | March 30, 2021

Commonwealth residents who were the victims of clergy sexual abuse could end up waiting two years or more before they get special legal window to pursue civil cases against their abusers. 

This came after the Wolf administration failed to provide proper public notice of an amendment passed by the legislature to be on the May ballot.

Then the state Senate halted an emergency measure to amend the state constitution. 

“After careful consideration, it has been determined by the majority that this matter does not meet the Emergency Status criteria and does not correct the failure by the Wolf administration as it still does not properly vet this matter with the public,” said Senate Republican Leader Kim Ward of Westmoreland County. “In fact, elevating this matter to emergency status further by-passes the public vetting process denying Pennsylvanians proper consideration of the proposed amendment.”

Pa. Senate leader nixes emergency amendment expanding window for child sex abuse victims

J.D. Prose | March 22, 2021

An effort in the Pennsylvania Legislature to get an emergency constitutional amendment expanding the window for child sex abuse victims to pursue civil action on the May primary ballot appeared dead on Monday after Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said the situation “does not meet the emergency status criteria” and the entire multi-year process would start over.

Ward said she saw no way to proceed without restarting the legislative process.

“In fact, elevating this matter to emergency status further bypasses the public vetting process denying Pennsylvanians proper consideration of the proposed amendment,” Ward, R-Westmoreland County, said in a statement.

‘We’ll be there, masks and all’: Closed out of the Capitol for months, sex abuse survivors reluctantly return to push for emergency reform

Elizabeth Hardison  | March 21, 2021

LaQuisha Anthony nearly brought a panel of lawmakers to tears when she came to the state Capitol in 2019. She testified about a sexual assault she survived in college, and urged lawmakers to pass reforms that would make it easier for victims like her to sue and press charges against their abusers.

Anthony returned to Harrisburg a month later, again with a group of advocates who survived sexual abuse and assault. They lay on the Capitol’s hard marble floors while waiting for late-night votes, and cried together in the Senate gallery when lawmakers finally passed some of the reforms they’d been seeking for years.

KY Senate Panel Advances Bill Supporting Child Sex-Abuse Victims

Nadia Ramlagan | March 16, 2021

A bill that would extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses involving minors from five to ten years after their eighteenth birthday is progressing through the Legislature.

Supporters of House Bill 472, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, said it will help more survivors be heard and their perpetrators held accountable.

Nationwide, one in four girls and one in thirteen boys will experience sexual abuse, and 34% of all victims are younger than 12, according to data from the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Boy Scouts’ Future

Barbara Mantel | March 12, 2021

More than 130 million youths have participated in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since its inception in 1910. But membership has been declining for nearly 50 years, and the organization may be fighting for its life. More than a year ago, it filed for bankruptcy protection after hundreds of men sued, alleging they had been sexually abused as children by adult BSA volunteers. Approximately 85,000 men have come forward since then, and the organization has put forward a proposal to compensate victims and emerge from bankruptcy. But all parties may not be able to agree on a plan, leaving the Scouting community to wonder in what form the BSA will survive. Meanwhile, since 2013, the organization has begun admitting openly gay boys and adult leaders, transgendered youth and, most recently, girls into its flagship programs. The historic changes have sparked a feud with the Girl Scouts of the USA, the loss of many members to alternative Christian organizations and a fierce debate about what values the iconic organization should embrace.

Connecticut Senator Introduces Jennifer’s Law in Honor of New Canaan Mother Jennifer Dulos

Jill Rosenfeld | February 23, 2021

Connecticut Senator Alex Kasser (D) Greenwich, Stamford and New Canaan, has introduced “Jennifer’s Law,” for the 2021 Legislative session. The bill is named in honor of Jennifer Dulos, the New Canaan mother who was murdered by her husband while she was pleading for her and her children’s safety in family court and whose five children are now orphaned.

The focus of the bill is to update and modernize the definition of Domestic Violence (DV) in Connecticut state law to include Coercive Control – a pattern of abuse which is not necessarily physical that isolates, dominates and intimidates a victim into submission through a pattern of behavior. This can include assault, psychological abuse, financial abuse, revenge porn, stalking and other forms of domination and threat. The bill would also prioritize child safety in custody proceedings by making DV, including child abuse, the first factor assessed by the family court in a case involving custody.

Bill to remove age limitations on child sexual abuse crimes passes committee | February 17, 2021

State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, on Tuesday secured committee passage of a bill that would eliminate age restrictions for future civil actions against individuals based on childhood sexual abuse incidents or exploitation.

House Bill 1002 would remove from state law the restriction that a victim of child sexual abuse or exploitation, suffered before they were 18, must bring any action for recovery of damages to the courts by their 45th birthday.

HB 1002 also would allow a five-year window, beginning Nov. 1 for the filing of retroactive claims for childhood sexual abuse for those persons who were previously barred from filing due to the age limitation.

After state blunder, Pa. abuse victims ask: ‘Who the hell are we supposed to trust?’

Laura Benshoff/Keystone Crossroads | February 16, 2021

The news that Pennsylvania had screwed up the process for putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow victims of decades-old sexual abuse to sue hit Jay Sefton hard.

He had let himself hope that things were finally about to change.

“[It] was a real dark wave that came over,” said Sefton, now a therapist in Massachusetts, who says he was abused by a priest in Havertown in 1985.

When the Pennsylvania Department of State failed to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment that had been passed by the legislature, it halted a march toward justice for thousands of victims abused in the commonwealth. The constitutional amendment process takes two years, and unless an emergency provision passes by mid-April, it would be 2023 before victims would be given a window to sue over decades-old sexual abuse claims.

Vindicated: Former Teacher of the Year opens up about dropped child molestation charge

Heather Crawford | February 8, 2021

It was a life-altering accusation: An elementary school assistant principal accused of child molestation by a former student, but the accusation wasn’t true according to the same student two years later. 

Now that educator is sharing his story and hoping to clear his name.

Honored as Glynn County’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year,
Eric Cabrera worked hard build his reputation and advance in his career, climbing his way up the ranks from a teacher’s assistant to assistant principal.

He was working at Oglethorpe Point Elementary on St. Simons Island in August 2018 when a police officer came to the school and met with him.

“He said that a student that had been at the school years before had said that I had molested him,” Cabrera recalled.

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot

Deb Erdley | February 6, 2021

A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse. An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot.

The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year “window” in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. The enabling legislation was approved in the General Assembly on three separate votes — two in the House and one in the Senate — and was headed for a final Senate vote this month to put it on the May ballot. But the Department of State failed to complete an essential task: legal advertising of the proposed amendment.

‘A slap in the face’ to abuse survivors: PA advocates want action after Boockvar’s office error

J.D. Prose | February 3, 2021

Advocacy groups for child sex abuse survivors are joining to push for legislation now that a constitutional amendment to retroactively expand the window to file civil suits will not be on the primary ballot this year.

The efforts comes after Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar submitted her resignation to Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday because her department failed to properly advertise the constitutional amendment that passed the Legislature in November 2019.

Now it could be years before the issue is resolved through a constitutional amendment rather than moving more quickly through legislation in Harrisburg.

Angry over botched constitutional amendment, Pa. lawmakers call for action to aid child sexual abuse victims

Ivey DeJesus | February 1, 2021

For some, it was a kick in the gut.

Some lawmakers and advocates have fought for nearly a decade to reform the state’s child sex crime laws. Now, members of the General Assembly, who were within days of approval for a long-anticipated constitutional amendment to open the doors to justice for victims, are outraged to learn a procedural mistake at the highest level has dealt a body blow to their efforts.

“I’m devastated. I’m just stunned,” said Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County.

Lawmakers learned Monday that due to a procedural mistake, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to aid victims of child sex abuse will be delayed by two years. The Department of State failed to advertise the proposed amendment that would provide a two-year window for litigation by survivors of child sexual abuse who are beyond the statute of limitations.

‘Just sick over it’: Clergy sexual abuse victims, their advocates lament error that derailed Pa. amendment

Deb Erdley | February 1, 2021

Mark Rozzi was crushed Monday when Gov. Tom Wolf called to tell him an amendment seeking to open a window of opportunity in court for old child sex abuse claims would not make the primary ballot this year because of an advertising oversight.

Rozzi, a state representative from Berks County who has recounted how he was raped by a priest in junior high school, has led the charge to change the law for several years. During that time, he’s become a champion of other survivors who stayed in the shadows for decades.

Pa. House passes measure to allow voters to create a window for child sex abuse victims to go to court

Ivey DeJesus | January 27, 2021

Pennsylvania on Wednesday stepped closer to paving the way for adults who were sexually abused as children to seek recourse in court against their predators.

By a vote of 187-15, the state House of Representatives passed a measure that could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits.

House Bill 14, authored by Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Blair, calls for a voter referendum on a two-year retroactive window that would lift expired statute of limitations to allow such legal civil action.

Trove of Buffalo Diocese abuse records turned over to victims in bankruptcy court

Jay Tokasz | January 10, 2021

Lawyers and survivors of childhood sexual abuse are reviewing more than 25,000 pages of internal Buffalo Diocese documents relating to clergy abuse, diocesan finances and personnel files.

Diocese lawyers began handing over the files in December under the terms of an agreement that they hashed out with abuse survivors who make up the committee of unsecured creditors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, according to multiple sources.


Whether the general public will be able to examine the confidential records someday remains unclear and likely will be subject to intense negotiations during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Philly child abuse advocacy group to survey Larry Nassar victims

Mark Abrams | January 6, 2021

A Philadelphia-based child abuse victim advocacy organization is spearheading a survey of victims of disgraced USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar.

Nassar was convicted of sexually abusing members of USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University teams over a period of decades. He’s now serving a 175-year prison term.

Jillian Ruck, executive director of CHILD USA, Philadelphia, said the group and its high-powered CEO and founder, child abuse victim lawyer Marci Hamilton, are behind the anonymous survey.





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