Child sex abuse survivors continue to push for legislative changes in wake of Grand Jury Report

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LANCASTER, Pa. --- After passing through the state house, a statute of limitations reform bill, Senate Bill 261, now awaits a day on the senate floor.

The bill includes a number of recommendations from the Grand Jury Report on child sex abuse within six Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania.

It would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations, increase the civil limit from age 30 to age 50 and include a retroactive two-year window for survivors to file a civil suit if they aged out of the current laws.

The retroactive window has been the subject of debate as some lawmakers have questioned the constitutionality of the provision.

Other ideas proposed include a victim support fund, which is supported by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Ryan O'Connor, a Johnstown native, says he was sexually abused by a babysitter as a young child and again by a parish priest, Father Martin McCamley of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

He is pushing for the legislation recommended by the grand jury.

“We want our church back, we want our lives back,” said O'Connor.

He said over the last twenty years, he has not been able to take the allegations to court due to the current statute of limitations in Pennsylvania.

“We won…We beat our demons…We survived. All we want is the opportunity to sit in a court of law…for these men…..No, they’re not men. For these monsters…to see what they’ve done to our lives,” said O'Connor.

Jim VanSickle from Bradford, Pennsylvania says he was abuse by a priest, Father David Poulson in the 1970s.

Poulson is currently awaiting trial following charges stemming from a grand jury investigation.

VanSickle said statute of limitations reform is needed for all survivors, whether it’s within church, school or any area of life.

“This law that’s going on in Harrisburg as we speak is not just important to those of the church. I’m angry at the church. I’m not happy with the way the church is handling this issue. But this is bigger than just the church,” said VanSickle

The last voting session for the senate is next Wednesday, October 17.

If there is no movement on the reform bill, the debate would have to wait until next year.

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