No day in court for victims of abuse

Forget House Bill 1947.

The measure that would give victims of sex abuse the opportunity to meet their accusers in court never made it to the House floor for reconsideration yesterday.

You can get all the details here.

You might remember the quite controversial history of this bill, which astoundingly was passed 180-15 last spring by the House, with the support of many in the Delco delegation, after still another extremely troubling grand jury report on the sexual abuse of children in the Johnstown-Altoona diocese, along with another subsequent massive cover-up.

The bill included controversial language in an amendment from state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, that would not only expand the window for victims to file civil suits from age 30 to age 50, it would allow victims from decades ago to come forward with civil suits now.

That did not sit well with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the National Catholic Conference and the insurance industry. They turned up the heat as the Senate considered the bill. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote a letter that was read or handed out at every parish urging the faithful to contact their legislator to vote against the measure, warning of dire consequences for churches, schools and social work if it were to become law. He called it no less than an attack on the church. Several Delco legislators felt serious heat from the archdiocese. Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley Park, actually had his name casually dropped into the parish bulletin with a reminder that he had supported the bill. Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163, of Upper Darby, said the archdiocese's actions came dangerously to electioneering.

The Senate eventually passed the bill - but without the controversial retroactive language.

That meant it had to work its way back through the Legislature again.

Not going to happen.

Rozzi yesterday admitted it was not even going to make it back out onto the House floor, let alone get a vote.

Rozzi ripped several Harrisburg leaders he believes are unduly influenced by opponents of the bill.

But he vows he's not going away. He says he will be in the new year, with a new effort to push the bill through, complete with the retroactive legislation.

As for the victims, they continue to wait for their day in court.