One of the most important roles of government is to protect the most vulnerable members of society. That includes victims of sexual abuse.
Last week, my House Republican colleagues and I moved to pull House Bill 3541 out of committee and up for a vote.
HB 3541 expands the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits against sexual abusers who are public employees. Such a law would have applied to longtime Pennsylvania State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of abuse that took place for 15 years.
More locally, a former Sherwood High School teacher was recently accused of sexually abusing students, and was investigated for those alleged crimes back in 2008.
A double standard currently exists in the laws governing these areas. The statute of limitations for victims to bring a lawsuit against public employees is only two years, but is much longer for victims seeking retribution against an abuser who was employed in a private organization. It basically means that children abused by public employees have lesser protections.
Unfortunately, our effort to bring HB 3541 up for a vote was denied by House Democrats.
A similar bill, HB 3478, was brought up earlier in the session and received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Testimony against the bill centered on its potential financial impacts to public agencies.
It is tragic that our state government would rather ignore this issue rather than deal with it appropriately.