Editorial: Pennsylvania must end statute of limitations

September 7, 2018

Pennsylvania has been rocked by child sex abuse. Again.

Not yet seven years since the Jerry Sandusky grand jury report turned national attention on the Keystone State, we once again stand on the national, if not world, stage as another grand jury lays bare what happens when power is wielded against children.

The court has had it’s say, and for most, the court’s involvement ends with the report. Either the villains of the story are dead or the orchestrated cover-up has done part of its job. It waited out the consequences.

That can’t be where it ends.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro started this race, but it’s time for the Legislature to take the baton and finish it.

It has happened in fits and starts before. The Sandusky scandal prompted changes to state law when it comes to the statute of limitations. The chains moved, adjusting the rules regarding reporting, prosecution and civil penalties. They moved further for people in certain positions, like teachers or coaches.

But with more than 300 predators named in this latest outrage, showing a trail that extends 70 years from parish to parish to cathedral, with more than 1,000 (and probably far more) children falling into an all-too-common trap along the way, it’s just not enough.

The statute of limitations may make sense for a theft or a property crime. It might make sense for some other varieties of violent crime. But it is settled law that it does not apply to murder.

What is child sex abuse if not the killing of a kid’s soul? The suffocation of their ability to speak about what happened? The strangulation of their trust in the people in charge?

The state’s representatives and senators must say, once and for all, that Pennsylvania has decided children are worth protecting and believing, and that those who prey on them and profit from their silence can’t wait out a date on a calendar. Not anymore.

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