Pennsylvania SOL Window Becomes Law

“PA SOL Window Becomes Law”. This the headline I’ve been waiting to read since 2013.

Tonight, on the eve of the new legislative session in Pennsylvania, “When, Not If” is the prevailing wind around the PA Senate chambers. Will 2021 be the year that the Republican-controlled Senate puts child abuse victims ahead of pedophiles (and the Roman Catholic Church and insurance industry interests)? Is 2021 the year Governor Wolf signs a retroactive window for child sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers? I think so, and I am not alone.

I will be attending the rally on the capitol steps tomorrow in support of HB951. To learn of this and future events follow the Twitter hashtag #windowtojustice And I look forward to publicly discussing my case against Tom Goerner. Media inquiries, please email and leave your cell number for quickest reply.

As a brief background to my story, I was sexually abused by Tom Goerner of Reading PA beginning in 1979 at the age of 15. I filed a civil lawsuit against him in 2013. In 2017, the court issued a summary judgement to dismiss the suit on the ground of statute of limitations had expired. Read a case summary on the Updates Page.

I hadn’t read Judge Sprecher’s Opinion granting summary judgement against me since it was issued in 2017. But as I was preparing for tomorrow’s rally, I took a fresh look at it. Read Judge Sprecher’s Opinion yourself on the Updates Page. Over four years has passed since the ruling but a few things stand out to me as I read it today:

  • In the Discussion section, Sprecher writes: “If the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint are true, defendant’s actions are indefensible, reprehensible, and criminal. Defendant was a sexual predator of adolescent boys. Defendant robbed plaintiff of his innocence and trust in authorities.” As a survivor, these are words of great comfort, but little value. I know the allegations to be true. Other boys who also worked for Tom Goerner also know the allegations to be true. For us, the allegations and the truth are the same. In our situation, a number of young male victims of Goerner, are available to corroborate one anothers’ testimonies if given an opportunity in court. We are waiting for the PA Senate to allow HB951 to the Senate floor for a vote. In 2021 so far, the bill has passed the Judiciary Committee and is being held up by Senator Kim Ward, the senate majority leader. I urge the PA Senate to bring HB951 to the floor for a vote and open a retroactive window for people like me can get our day in court and hold pedophiles like Tom Goerner accountable instead of allowing them to hide in the shadows in their communities (Crestwood section, Reading PA) and at their employment (Berks Foods, Reading PA) where they have access to unknowing children and teens.
  • Sprecher also comments on the SOL defense that evidence and defense is abandoned, and in response says: “However, the facts in this case are different. It is highly unlikely that anyone in an intimate relationship, especially, non-consensual, will ever forget the other party or the events that occurred even after decades afterwards. Nor does one usually need to find witnesses who saw or heard these private acts to establish or disprove his or her claims.” In fact, there is tremendous empirical evidence proving statistically that false allegation child sexual abuse cases are very rare statistically. The idea that false allegation cases are filed often is as foolish as the notion of “Stranger Danger”, remember that off-target public awareness campaign urging kids to be afraid of strangers because they are a frequent source of sexual abuse? How stupid we are as a society on so many things related educating our children about child sexual abuse prevention.
  • Although the plaintiff is to be commended for now achieving the emotional and psychological strength needed to do so, he should not be punished again by the law taking away his legal relief in court. Judge Sprecher gets it. Why doesn’t Senator Kim Ward get it?
  • Sprecher concludes: “Unfortunately, this court will not be able to judge the credibility of the witnesses. As unfair as it is, this court is bound by the law concerning the statute of limitations on sexual assaults of children. However, judgement will be entered without prejudice for the plaintiff to file another action if the statute of limitations is changed on sexual assaults of minors.” In other words, when the PA Senate brings HB951 to a vote, and a retroactive window becomes law in Pennsylvania, for me, for the other boys I know (and victims I don’t know), and for all abuse survivors who can file in PA, all we need is for the PA Senate to allow the vote.

If you have read through this web site, you are aware that I represented myself in this first lawsuit. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time to learn the law, prepare the court documents, stand in front of the court aside the defendant’s attorney Thomas Klonis, and literally stand up for myself. It was a positive life changing event that helped me move from stuck-victim to active survivor dedicated to getting justice and holding the pedophile accountable.

I think 2021 is going to be the year I will get my day (back) in court.

— John Doe A, September 19, 2021 (email )