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Benchbook to help guide state’s trial judges in sexual assault cases

ENOLA—The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts have partnered to release the third edition of Benchbook on Crimes of Sexual Violence in Pennsylvania. The benchbook will help the Commonwealth’s trial judges comply with newly adopted recommendations regarding sexual offender registration and reporting laws featured in the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act.
The book offers court judges a guide to handling crimes of sexual violence and addresses the steps of sex offense cases. It also includes detailed information regarding preliminary arraignments and hearings, standards of proof and the setting of bail and bail conditions to ensure the safety of victims and witnesses.
Superior Court Judge Jack Panella served as the primary author on the publication which first was created in 2007.
“PCAR’s collaboration on this project is just one example of our legacy of partnerships with dedicated professionals to hold offenders accountable for their actions and to provide a justice system that recognizes the impact these serious crimes have on the victim,” PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg said.
The book is not designed to tell judges how to rule on a case.
“Our overarching purpose is to provide trial judges with best practices and access to information to help them reach informed and prompt decision when relevant cases arise,” Judge Panella said. “We focused on incorporating the new requirements of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act, allowing Pennsylvania to close potential gaps and loopholes that existed under prior laws and to strengthen the nationwide network of sex offender registrations.”
The benchbook is available to view at
About PCAR:
Founded in 1975, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape advocates for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims and works to end sexual violence. PCAR partners with a network of rape crisis programs to bri ng help, hope and healing around issues of sexual violence to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.