Rebecca Schultz


It is exceptionally difficult for many survivors of sexual assault to come forward to tell their story. This is particularly the case where the perpetrator is someone in a position of power who the survivor trusted. The statute of limitations for cases of childhood sexual abuse can serve as another barrier preventing survivors from coming forward because it prevents any semblance of justice for those individuals. This is currently most evident in states like Pennsylvania that still impose a statute of limitations on crimes of sexually assaulting children. Pennsylvania is reeling from its most recent Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal, but such scandals are, unfortunately, not new to the Church and not new to Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the church administrations, occasionally in conjunction with local prosecutors, engaged in efforts to cover up such instances of abuse. These efforts, when combined with restrictive statute of limitations in the state and the other impediments to survivors reporting their sexual assault, often mean that survivors are unable to have their day in court when they feel prepared to do so. As many states across the country move towards the elimination of their statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of minors, it is incumbent upon Pennsylvania to do the same, and to make such changes retroactive so the survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can receive justice and ensure no other child is abused and dehumanized in the way they were.