SCP Statement: PA State Senate Ignores Survivors’ Calls for Justice

HARRISBURG (OCTOBER 17, 2018) – Stop Child Predators (SCP) is urging every member of the PA State Senate to send a strong message to child predators – and those who would protect them – and vote no on the amended version of SB 261, which protects the Roman Catholic Church from any liability for decades of covering up horrific crimes against children.

“It is unconscionable that the Senate would even consider passing a bill that protects the very institution that bears principal responsibility for decades of abuse against children,” said SCP President Stacie Rumenap. “We’re urging every senator to focus on the survivors and reject this legislation.”

SCP supports the major recommendations that were made by the statewide grand jury that investigated the abuses, which include; tightening the law that requires teachers, clergy, police and many other professionals to report abuse; eliminating age limits for victims of sexual abuse in childhood to file criminal complaints; and eliminating nondisclosure agreements that bar victims from cooperating in criminal prosecutions.

SCP also supports opening the “two-year window” so that survivors can hold their abusers and the institutions that allowed the abuse accountable in a court of law.  The amended version of SB 261 lacks this key provision. 

SCP also supports the ability of survivors to elect to participate in a compensation fund to recover for the injuries suffered at the hands of abusers and their institutions.  SCP does not support a compensation fund that would require survivors to participate in the fund or that allows institutions that enabled abuses for decades to opt out of the fund.    

“On Wednesday, my abuser entered a guilty plea yesterday in Jefferson County and, still, here we are fighting for our right to have our day in court,” said Jim VanSickle, SCP’s Survivor Advocacy Coordinator. Jim’s abuser, former Catholic priest David Poulson, was charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

The Diocese of Erie was aware that Poulson was a sexual predator since May 2010 but failed to report him to authorities until September 2016, according to the Office of Attorney General.

“It makes absolutely no sense to think that the same church that covered up for this man – and many, many others – will not be held accountable,” VanSickle said. “We have fought for too long to walk away now. I am asking every single senator to vote no on this legislation. The Senate must approve legislation that is acceptable to the House and send it to Governor Tom Wolf.

For more information, please visit SCP’s Facebook page.