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Child Sex Abuse Cases

As state lawmakers decide the political costs of opening a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to sue, much of the debate about the two-year window for those past the statute of limitations has been about the potential financial impact on the catholic church over the egregious abuse claims outlined in those grand jury reports.

But that proposal would open the door for all adult victims of child sexual abuse, and a new study shows how much that could ultimately cost taxpayers.

Last April, the Diocese of Camden in New Jersey agreed to pay $87 million to about 300 victims, an average payout of about $290,000. In November, the Diocese of Rochester in New York agreed to pay $55 million to 475 victims, about $115,000 each.

Both dioceses had declared bankruptcy before settling. How many claims could be filed in Pennsylvania against the state’s eight dioceses is unclear given how many cases have already been settled.

But while those private organizations watch and wait, there is another aspect that could cost you.

The Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank group, did a study with an economics professor at Villanova University, finding the impacts a window could have on public schools in the commonwealth could top $5 billion.

“The state is not in a financial position where it could handle anything over $5 Billion, It would be quite the burden for them to do so.”

The Pennsylvania Senate passed the amendment for a second consecutive session last week but did so as part of a package of amendments including voter ID and regulation reform that brought in Republicans skeptical about the costs and legal dilemmas with the lawsuit window, while also leading Democrats to vote against it because of their issues with the other two amendments.

Kathryn Robb, executive director of Child USAdvocacy, said in an interview with that the school estimate is likely inflated as a window in New York showed that of almost 11,000 lawsuits, about 13% dealt with allegations of abuse in public schools.

The cost and legal questions have been a reason why some lawmakers haven’t supported the law as concerns about how to handle a legal and moral reckoning continues.

“People should be made whole, It’s just a matter of who how do we go about it, when do we go about it, and what is considered appropriate restitution?”

The Pennsylvania House continues to be at a standstill over how they’ll operate and has not scheduled time to debate the Senate’s bill. The goal is to get the amendment approved in time for voter’s to weigh in on it during the May primary election.

While that amendment package passed the Senate, the State House continues to be at a standstill over how they’ll operate.

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