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Bishop, Senate President Propose Clergy Abuse Compensation Fund

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It sometimes takes years, decades even, for victims of clergy sex abuse to come forward, and by that time, the statute of limitations has run its course.

For Berks County Representative Mark Rozzi, who was molested by a priest as boy, it took the suicide of childhood friend.

"When that happened, I vowed that I would never, never turn my back on the children of this commonwealth ever," he said.

Rozzi has a bill to open a two-year window for victims to sue the church, but it's been all but killed by the senate president pro tem Joe Scarnati, who calls it unconstitutional.

But Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico has joined Scarnati in supporting another solution -- the establishment of a victim compensation fund to compensate every victim in Pennsylvania with a credible claim against the church, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

In a statement, Persico said, "It is time to take action. We must do what is within our power to provide justice to victims... We need bold, decisive and collaborative action."

The fund, similar to the one for victims of 9/11, would be run by a third-party administrator, and Persico is asking every diocese in the commonwealth to support a bill establishing it. Diocesan spokesman Father Nick Vaskov says the Pittsburgh diocese has an open mind.

"We're open to discussions about it in light of what has been suggested by President of the Senate Scarnati because anything we can do to better support and help victims, we want to be open to," he said.

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