2018-10-16 / State

Senate pressed for jury recommendations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Monday that recommendations from a state grand jury report that found Roman Catholic priests sexually abused more than a thousand children over decades will pass if given a vote in Pennsylvania’s Senate.

Shapiro spoke while greeting victims of sexual abuse demonstrating outside Senate offices where Republican lawmakers were meeting privately to discuss legislation to respond to the grand jury report.

Leaders of the Senate’s huge Republican majority have not promised a floor vote on all four recommendations. The chamber’s top Republican, President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, has maintained that one recommendation is unconstitutional.

That recommendation is to give now-adult victims of child sexual abuse a 2-year window to sue perpetrators and institutions over claims that would otherwise be barred by time limits in state law. On Monday, Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, said he did not think many Republican senators support the recommendation.

Shapiro’s office, however, has maintained that the provision is constitutional and the House passed it overwhelmingly late last month. Scarnati backs a church-created fund to compensate victims. Under current law, victims of child sexual abuse have until age 30 to sue.

The Senate’s fall voting schedule ends this week, and Republican senators said they did not expect a vote in the chamber before Wednesday.

Both chambers have supported legislation to adopt another grand jury recommendation, eliminating the statute of limitations for future criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse. Current law limits prosecutions in cases where the victim is under 50.

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