HARRISBURG, Pa. - Victims of childhood sexual abuse staged a sit-in at the Capitol on this last day of session. They silently protested senate leadership for not calling for a vote on a bill they say will help victims.
"We're not going away," said Patty Fortney-Julius, victim of childhood sexual abuse. "The senate left but we didn't have that luxury to leave our lives. Our lives continue on everyday, we continue this fight everyday"
The victims are fighting to get SB261 passed in the State Senate. The bill would give victims of childhood sexual abuse a two-year retroactive window allowing now-adult victims the opportunity to file civil claims, a recommendation from the Grand Jury investigation into six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. Early Wednesday morning, victims of childhood sexual abuse were still holding out hope senate leaders would call for a vote on the bill.
"We need a hero or a shero to do the right thing and we're standing on that hope," said Lara Fortney-McKeever, victim of childhood sexual abuse. "We're standing in the gap for victims who can't stand any longer because there are a lot of them who are suffering."
The Fortney sisters were abused by a priest int he Harrisburg Diocese for 10 years. Their abuser died while awaiting trial but the family did settle two civil suits with the diocese. They say they are just five of many other now-adult children who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse and without a retroactive window, not everyone is being held accountable.
"What we can't collectively as victims agree to forgive is the hierarchy," said Carolyn Fortney, victim of childhood sexual abuse. "The people who knew about it and covered it up and enabled them to continue doing these criminal acts, it's not just a sin, it's a criminal act."
Victims at Wednesday's protest say they are not giving up. They plan to be back at the Capitol on the first day of the legislative session in January.
Fox43 did reach out to the offices of State Senators Jake Corman and Joe Scarnati for comment in regards to SB261, but our request went unanswered.