ENOLA— The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is calling for the removal of the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases.
A report filed today by the Attorney General’s office regarding the sexual abuse of hundreds of children in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown reinforces the urgency in removing these limitations and providing an opportunity for justice to be sought.
“It is exasperating and maddening to know that people who have sexually abused children—children they were trusted to protect —will go unpunished because of outdated and ineffective legislation,” PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg said. “We have had enough. Too many children and families have had their lives, health, education, relationships and faith damaged. Pennsylvania cannot continue to keep laws on the books that allow institutions the ability to cover up crimes and leave children in the care of people known to hurt them.”
The experience of sexual assault leaves victims feeling confused, scared, embarrassed, shamed and humiliated. This is why it is normal for survivors of sexual assault to wait years and decades before telling anyone what was done to them.
“Delayed reporting is normal and should be expected,” Rumburg said. “Law enforcement officials must be given the ability to take action when victims are ready, to protect those victims and to protect our entire community.”
Child sexual abuse leaves a long-term impact. Many survivors experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and problems with drugs and alcohol. It is common for victims to struggle for decades before making the connection between childhood abuse and addictions, self-harming behaviors and depression that they may experience.
Sexual violence is a serious and common problem, with significant costs to people, families and communities. Prevention is possible, and removing the statute of limitations is one step toward creating an environment that respects the real nature the crime and its impact on victims.
It is time that we demand the removal of the statute of limitations for sexual assault.
Founded in 1975, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape advocates for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims and works to end sexual violence. PCAR partners with a network of rape crisis programs to bring help, hope and healing around issues of sexual violence to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To learn more, go to pcar.org.