PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Time is running out to give victims of sexual abuse a two-year window to sue their abusers for damages in Pennsylvania, say advocates.
Legislation has passed the House and is now sitting on the Senate floor.
One lawmaker pushing for change is a victim himself.
In front of the Bucks County court, a gathering, Monday, with some holding signs depicting their pain.
A man battles his emotions when asked about his son Sean, the victim, he says, of sexual abuse by a Northeast Philadelphia priest.
“There he is 12 feet under. He’s dead – died a couple of days before he was to testify against Father Robert L. Brennan,” said dad Michael McLlmail.
The son died of an accidental heroin overdose, his father said.
Arthur Baselice tells much the same story about his son, a priest-abuse victim, who committed suicide.
“They molested him and molested him again,” Baselice said.
They came to support a last-minute push for legislation opening a two-year window in Pennsylvania to allow sex abuse victims to sue their long-ago abusers in civil court for money damages.
Representative Mark Rozzi, an abuse victim himself, won approval of the bill in the State House.
“Some people want to come right here to the Justice Center to get justice. Hence, the window to justice,” said Representative Rozzi.
But, the legislation has slowed in the Senate from opposition to the two-year window and growing support for a victims’ fund to compensate the abused.
Critics of the fund argue it leaves abusers to hide in the shadows.
“Whether they want children in this state to be sexually assaulted or if they want the predators of the state to be identified,” said Marci Hamilton with CHILD USA.
In a letter last month to parishioners, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia wrote in opposition of the two-year window, stating:
“…diocesan bankruptcy is the result, with the parishes and ministries very much at risk.”
While parents speak of justice.
“This is a morale issue and the highest form of morality is justice,” Baselice stated.