PA Attorney General urges lawmakers to take action and support abuse survivors

PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is sending a strong message to the state legislature: support survivors of sexual abuse by passing critical legislation that would allow them to seek justice over a two-year window.

The attorney general spearheaded the groundbreaking grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Dioceses.

In an interview with Channel 11′s Rick Earle, Shapiro voiced his disappointment with the secretary of state’s office, after the department mismanaged the process to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow abuse survivors a two-year window to file civil lawsuits.

”This conduct at the department of state was truly shameful and these survivors deserve better. I can tell you, I’ve had some productive conversations with the governor and legislative leaders about trying to remedy this error and trying to get the victims in a position where we can bring justice as quickly and humanly possible,” said Shapiro.

According to the Associated Press, the proposed amendment, which is in response to the child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, first passed the Legislature as House Bill 963 in November 2019. The Department of State was constitutionally required to advertise the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment in two newspapers in every county, in each of the three months before the next general election when members of the General Assembly are elected.

That advertising did not happen before the 2020 general election.

”That could literally be on the governor’s desk by next week with the House and Senate in session. I’m not suggesting that they do that. But technically, it could be done that way. It is my view that that’s the preferred alternative and that is to pass it as a normal bill and get it to the governor’s desk and put these victims in a position where they can get justice,” said Shapiro.

The attorney general told Channel 11 he wants action and wants it done as soon as possible.

“This is a massive wrongdoing. It is shameful is disgraceful, and people need to be held to account,” said Shapiro.