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Fiasco At Pennsylvania State Department Leads To Secretary's Resignation And Upends Sexual Abuse Survivors' Ability To Sue

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning over her office's failure to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment.

That failure means voters cannot approve a measure this year that would allow victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue their predators.

A key recommendation of the Grand Jury on the sexual abuse of children by priests was straightforward: barred from suing for abuse that happened years ago, the Grand Jury said to give survivors a special two-year period to sue.

A constitutional amendment to allow that was supposed to be on the May ballot, but now that won't happen.

"The Department of State's failure to carry out its mandated duties is shameful," state Attorney General Josh Shapiro told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Someone forgot to advertise the amendment in local newspapers before the last election as required by the state constitution.

Boockvar said she learned of the error last week, took responsibility and offered to resign this Friday, which Governor Tom Wolf accepted.

"I don't know who's to blame, but I appreciate that Secretary Boockvar took full responsibility as head of the department," said Pennsylvania Senator Lindsey Williams, a West Vue Democrat.

Both Wolf and Boockvar apologized to survivors, but that's not enough, says Shapiro.

"As a result of that failure, survivors are going to have to wait for justice, and I think it's on everyone now to clean up that error and to make sure that these survivors are taken care of," the Attorney General says.

Shapiro says re-doing the amendment takes three years. He wants the legislature to change state law to give survivors a two-year window to sue their predators in court. Williams has a bill to do just that.

"It doesn't need to be a constitutional amendment," says Williams.

"It can just be a statutory fix. This has happened in other states and been held up as legal, and that way the victims don't have to continue to wait."

Last year the senior Republican insisted on a constitutional amendment, but he's retired. So KDKA asked the new Senate leader, Pennsylvania Senator Jake Corman, a Bellefonte Republican.

"We want to work with everyone to make something happen as fast as we can," says Corman.

"That still may be the constitutional process, but we're going to be in touch with every attorney we can seek out to give us advice to see how best to move forward."

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