MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. — He's been fighting for eight years on behalf of child sex abuse victims, and on Wednesday, state Rep. Mark Rozzi got a little closer to his goal. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill establishing a two-year window for victims to file civil claims, but Rozzi said he won't rest until it's finally the law.
"This is for all victims of childhood sexual abuse," said Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat. "As a victim, I have just always wanted to fight, because I know so many people like myself don't have a voice."
Rozzi was abused as a child, and he has made it his mission to get victims a two-year window to sue, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
"We're giving those two years back to children," Rozzi said. "Think about it — a 7-year-old only had until 9 years old to report the abuse, which is ridiculous, so we're giving victims their power back, their rights back."
Twice before, his bill passed the House but failed in the Senate. Now, after it passed the House for a third time, he thinks it might finally have a shot.
"Maybe the third time is our charm," said Rozzi. "We're going to get this done."
State Rep. Greg Vitali, a Democrat who represents Delaware and Montgomery counties, opposes the bill. He said on the House floor that it could wind up costing taxpayers a lot of money if people start suing public schools, and they have to fund lawyers' fees and big payouts.
Rozzi, however, said that's a small price to pay for justice.
"Let's get this done, once and for all, but until this happens, I promise you I will never stop fighting," he said. "It's been a long eight-and-a-half years in this battle, but I would never have thought passing laws in Harrisburg to protect children would be this difficult."
Rozzi said he hopes Pennsylvanians will call their state senators and urge them to vote yes for the sex abuse bill.