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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A feeling of disappointment filled the air in the Pennsylvania State Senate late Wednesday night after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement over the Statute of Limitations Reform Bill for child sex abuse victims.
Sen. Jay Costa tweeted a picture saying, “I will not support the Republican Amendment #SB261. It does not provide justice to the victims and gives institutions a free pass after decades of conspiring to conceal child sex abuse.”
KDKA talked with Sen. Costa as he drove back to Pittsburgh Thursday morning.
“We felt disappointed that we weren’t able to bring that to closure. We came close, but it came down to a couple sticking points,” he said.
The House voted “yes” to create a two-year retroactive window that will allow victims to file civil lawsuits against their abusers. However, the Senate did not pass the bill along after days of negotiating.
“Victims are very disappointed that the Pennsylvania Senate chose the Catholic church instead of passing a law to open a 2 year window for all victims to have their day in court. It is a hard long wait, but victims are not giving up. The truth has got to be exposed so that children are safe within this system,” Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Regional Leader, said.
Current law does not permit lawsuits after a victim turns 30 years old and before 2002, law required victims to sue within two years of the crime.
Sen. Costa said he understands why victims would wake up Thursday morning and feel upset, especially since Wednesday was the last day of session.
“I’m sure they’re very frustrated because we’ve had ample time to bring this to closure and we were not able to do so. However, I would say I wouldn’t lose hope,” Sen. Costa said.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro appeared upset Wednesday night, taking a shot at GOP senators.
“They turned their backs on these victims and the thousands yes, the thousands identified by the grand jurors all across the Commonwealth,” Shapiro said.
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Jones was also saddened by the lack of action taken by the Senate.
“We’re very sad Pennsylvania Republicans chose to protect Predators instead of children. Luckily survivors are a strong and resilient bunch and will be back next year in force. In the meantime it’s crucial that anybody who saw suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes are cover-ups call police and prosecutors,” Jones said.
Sen. Costa told KDKA he doesn’t think the GOP senators were trying to block a decision, but there was just a difference of opinions on key points.
“At the end of the day, I feel as if there was a good faith effort by members on both sides of the aisle,” Sen. Costa said.
Sen. Costa said they’re due back to Harrisburg on November 14, but could be called back sooner. He said he doesn’t want people to lose hope because there’s still time to reach an agreement and come up with a plan that will satisfy both victims and lawmakers.