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Pennsylvania Legislation


  PCAR's Current Legislative Agenda  

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape 
Legislative Agenda 

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape works to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and advocate for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims. We are a Coalition comprised of rape crisis centers that serve all 67 counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Together, we seek legislative reforms that expand the rights and options of victims and strengthen sexual assault prevention in every community. We respectfully submit these core legislative priorities of our Coalition and invite partnership and support. In addition to these priorities, we are committed to engaging in legislative efforts that enable us to advance our mission and core values of victim rights, social transformation, equity, and racial justice.

  • Establish a look-back window for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to access civil justice: Victims of child sexual abuse deserve justice. A look-back window would open a two-year timeframe during which survivors would have the opportunity to pursue civil remedies in court, including victims who would normally be barred from civil litigation by the statute of limitations. A retroactive window opens a critical pathway toward justice and healing for past victims. It also protects children of today by bringing to justice individuals who have committed child sexual abuse and who may still pose a risk in our communities.
  • Establish a statewide tracking system for all sexual assault evidence: For many survivors, a forensic rape exam is a difficult but necessary part of an emergency crisis response immediately following an assault. These exams usually include collecting evidence of the assault, often called a rape kit. Rape kit tracking systems are considered national best practices. They provide victims with real-time updates about the status of their evidence, which is crucial to victims’ healing. Tracking systems prevent rape kit backlogs, increase accountability, and enhance community safety. A statewide tracking system is the next step for Pennsylvania as we join the 25+ states that already have such systems, including our neighbors in Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Child sexual abuse prevention and response: We seek legislation and partnerships that would further protect children and prevent child sexual abuse and trafficking—online, in person, and throughout the Commonwealth. We support teachers and school districts working to identify abuse in online environments and to implement child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention programs in collaboration with community-based organizations, such as rape crisis centers.
  • Safe housing for victims of sexual assault: Many Pennsylvanians face economic and housing insecurity. COVID, inflation, and other factors have exacerbated this vulnerability. Too often, sexual abuse can cause— or be a result of— housing insecurity, homelessness, and poverty. This is true among single adults and families with children. We seek to strengthen housing protections in both the private and public sectors to expand victims’ housing protections.
  • Protections for immigrant and refugee victims fleeing abuse and assault: Undocumented and refugee children and adults face alarming risks of trafficking, abuse, and assault. U-Visa protections are available to victims who cooperate with law enforcement. Federal U-Visas are critically important to law enforcement as they investigate and prosecute dangerous criminal activity in our communities. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s inconsistent certification procedures leave many victims and communities at risk of ongoing harm and abuse. We seek partnerships and legislation that will strengthen Pennsylvania’s U-Visa process and expand the safety of victims.
  • Protect the full range of reproductive healthcare for victims and all people: Every person deserves the freedom and bodily autonomy to access reproductive healthcare and abortion when they need it. We believe every person has the right to do so safely, legally, and without governmental intrusion. Children, adolescents, and adults who become pregnant through rape or incest must have the right to continue or end a rape-related pregnancy. We firmly stand behind the rights of victims and survivors to access safe, legal abortion care. These rights must be available to all persons. We oppose any effort–legislative or otherwise–that restricts or bans reproductive healthcare, including any effort to restrict or ban abortion.
  • Expand victims’ access to trauma-informed healthcare and advocacy services: The Pennsylvania General Assembly has strengthened the options and resources available to victims of sexual assault by amending the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection (SATEC) Act over multiple legislative sessions. As a result, Pennsylvania can be viewed as a national leader in employing best practices in medical care for victims. We seek legislative, administrative, and other efforts to further expand victims’ access to trauma-informed medical care, including access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, and the enforcement of victims’ rights to consult with sexual assault counselors and advocates from local rape crisis centers before, during, and after the forensic rape exam.

Contact Gabriella Romeo, Public Policy and Legislative Affairs Director:; 717-728-7940, x114.

  Bills of Interest  

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Find your legislators

Our Policy Successes

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is thankful to the state legislature for their work to pass the bills listed below in support of survivors and their loved ones.

HB 962: Reform Statutes of Limitations

Sponsor: Rep. Rozzi

Eliminates in certain cases, and extends the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for sexual offenses. Expands the rights of victims between ages 18 and 23 to seek justice in both criminal and civil courts. The bill also expands the Victims Compensation Assistance Program to provide funds for counseling and therapy.


HB 156: Increasing Age of Protected Child Victims in Court

Sponsor: Rep. Owlett

Allows for out-of-court statements made by child victims age 16 and under to be submitted as evidence for certain offenses in court, rather than requiring these victims to testify in open court. Previously, these accommodations were only offered to children age 12 and under.


HB 246: Expanding Rape Shield Protections to Human Trafficking Victims

Sponsor: Rep. Mihalek

Prohibits persons accused of human trafficking from submitting the victim’s past sexual conduct or age (as it relates to age of consent or age of marriage) as a defense in court.


HB 843: Human Trafficking and Prostitution Considerations in Custody Decisions

Sponsor: Rep. Rowe

Mandates that when courts make custody decisions, they must consider any convictions of the parties or their household members of certain offenses related to human trafficking and prostitution. If one of the parties in the custody proceeding has such a conviction, or a member of their household does, the court must determine that this party or household member does not pose a threat to the child before allowing this party custody.


HB 954: Improving Coordination of Child Abuse Prevention/ Investigation

Sponsor: Rep. Stephens

Allows law enforcement agencies to share information related to cases of child abuse with other government and nonprofit entities for the purpose of improving cooperation with related service providers. Permits criminal justice agencies to share information relating to allegations or instances of child abuse with county agencies and the Department of Human Services in order to improve the coordination of child abuse investigations. Additionally, permits criminal justice agencies to share this information with children’s advocacy centers in order to receive relevant services. Finally, allows for criminal justice agencies to share this information with multidisciplinary review teams, multidisciplinary investigative teams, child fatality review teams, and child near fatality review teams to coordinate efforts to investigate, prevent, and address child abuse. Those authorized by this bill to receive such information may not share it with other individuals. This is consistent with the principles of central repositories and automated systems of child abuse information.


HB 1147: Expanding Mandatory Sex Offender Counseling/Therapy

Sponsor: Rep. Gaydos

Mandates sex offender counseling and therapy for incarcerated people convicted of child sex trafficking or crimes associated with prostitution or incest, regardless of the age of the victim. Previously, incarcerated people convicted of prostitution or incest were only mandated to attend sex offender counseling or therapy if the victim was a minor.


HB 1431: Abuse of a Care-Dependent Person

Sponsor: Rep. Klunk

Defines the use of any audio, video, or still images of a care-dependent person to ridicule or demean that person as abuse of a care-dependent person. This offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree.


SB 81: Expansion of Expert Testimony

Sponsor: Sen. Langerholc

Allows for expert testimony in any criminal proceeding for any crime related to sex offender registration or continued sex offender registration, including the perpetration, attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit crimes related to sex trafficking, incest, sex offenses, prostitution, child sexual abuse, unlawful contact with a minor, child sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and endangering the welfare of a child or corrupting minors when sexual contact was involved. Experts may have specialized knowledge in either sexual or domestic violence (previously the statute allowed for only experts in sexual violence). Domestic violence is defined as simple or aggravated assault, stalking, or strangulation, if these crimes were committed against a family or household member.


SB 87: Establishment of Task Force on Child Pornography/ Enhancement of Child Pornography Sentencing

Sponsor: Sen. Baker

Establishes Task Force on Child Pornography and provides for composition (includes the Director of PCAR and the director of a PA rape crisis center as appointed by the governor), meetings, public hearings, inter-agency cooperation, reports, and actions of the task force.

Task Force will review any weaknesses in current child pornography laws, recommend improvements to investigation and prosecution of child pornography, and suggest changes to State statutes, practices, policies, and procedures related to recognition and prosecution of child pornography.

Additionally enhances sentencing for some offenses of child pornography, and allows for the age of the child (under 10 years or prepubescent) and whether the child was known to the defendant to be considered when determining sentencing.

HB 962: Reform Statutes of Limitations

Sponsor: Rep. Rozzi

Eliminates in certain cases, and extends the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for sexual offenses. Expands the rights of victims between ages 18 and 23 to seek justice in both criminal and civil courts. The bill also expands the Victims Compensation Assistance Program to provide funds for counseling and therapy.


HB 1051: Hold mandated reporters accountable

Sponsor: Rep. Stephens

Increases penalties for mandated reporters who willfully fail to report child sexual abuse.


HB 1171: Protect one's ability to report abuse

Sponsor: Rep. Toohill

Stops non-disclosure agreements that bar victims from reporting to law enforcement.


HB 1402:

Sponsors: Reps. Nesbit and McClinton

Establishes sexual extortion as a crime with appropriate penalties. This bill is a model for the nation because it includes harm
toward victims and their loved ones as well as monetary extortion that often accompanies coercion of a sexual nature.


SB 399:

Sponsor: Sen. Langerholc

Amends the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act to establish greater consistencies for victims, expands victim rights and the notification of such rights, extends the preservation of evidence to the duration of the Statute of Limitations, and ensures victims have access to a sexual assault counselor from a local rape crisis center.


HB 502: Provide access to victims to watch court proceedings

Sponsor: Rep. Hershey

Amends the Crime Victims Act to allow victims to watch court proceedings via telecommunications.


HB 504: Prohibit a victim's past sexual victimization of past allegations from being admitted as evidence

Sponsor: Rep. Mihalek

Past sexual victimization or past allegations are prohibited from use as evidence.


SB 469: Help victims or witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism testify in court

Sponsor: Sen. Laughlin

This bill creates another avenue for victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism testify in court proceedings.


SB 479: Allow statements by child victims or witnesses to be admissible in court

Sponsor: Sen. Baker

This bill allows for statements by child victims or witnesses for crimes such as sexual offenses, assault, or kidnapping.


SB 276: Constitutionally protect the rights of victims through Marsy's Law

Sponsor: Rep. Delozier

Marsy’s Law amended the constitution to specify protected rights for victims and protection from harassment or retaliation from the accused.


Act 16 of 2019 (HB 1615)

Sponsor: Re. Turzai (originally sponsored by Sen. Baker)

Require postsecondary institutions to establish online, anonymous reporting options for victims and bystanders to report sexual misconduct.


Act 16 of 2019 (HB 1615)

Sponsor: Rep. Turzai (originally sponsored by Sen. Schwank)

Require postsecondary institutions to provide drug and alcohol amnesty when individuals report sexual misconduct in good faith.