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PA Senate Panel Makes Controversial Changes To Child Sex Abuse Bill

By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) -- Advocates for victims of child sex abuse suffered a major setback today when a Senate committee removed provisions from a bill that would have allowed victims to retroactively file lawsuits.

The bill already passed by the House eliminates the criminal statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases, and extends the statute of limitations for civil cases going forward. But it was amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee to eliminate provisions that would have allowed for retroactive lawsuits in cases where the current statute of limitations has already expired.

Berks County House Democrat Mark Rozzi supports retroactivity.

"Pedophiles and the institutions… they have gotten another free pass."

But suburban Philadelphia Democrat Daylin Leach, a member of the Senate committee, says the retroactive provisions of the bill violated the state constitution.

"I really want to keep retroactivity in there. However, I just don't feel I can."

Leach says he believes lawmakers have to be objective about the issue of constitutionality.

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