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Pennsylvania Enacts New Laws to Support Abuse Survivors

As Governor Tom Wolf signed the 2021-22 state budget and its related bills, several other important bills were also enacted to help victims of sexual violence and enhance the safety of  our communities.  The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) applauds and thanks House and Senate champions for their leadership to advance legislation that will have a positive impact on survivors of sexual violence: Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga)’s House Bill 156 to increase the age for admissible out-of-court statements made by a child victim or witness from 12 to 16 years of age for certain offenses

  • Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny)’s HB 246 to expand protections contained within Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law to victims of human trafficking
  • Rep. David Rowe (R-Snyder)’s HB 843 adding offenses of human trafficking and prostitution or prostitution related offenses to the list of offenses the court will take into consideration in child custody cases
  • Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery)’s HB 954 to allow law enforcement agencies to share information relevant to an allegation or instance of abuse with particular entities that are required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) to investigate abuse
  • Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny)’s HB 1147 to expand the list of offenses that will require inmates to undergo sex offender counseling to now include human trafficking if the victim is a minor under 18 years of age and the offense involved sexual servitude; if the offense involved sexual contact with a child victim; corruptions of a minor if the offense involved sexual contact with the victim or incest of a  minor
  • Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York)’s HB 1431 to establish a misdemeanor with penalties for the abuse of a care-dependent person.  It also establishes a caretaker commits the offense of abuse if the individual, with the intent to ridicule or demean a care-dependent person uses any audio, video or still image of the care-dependent person in any format or medium on or through any electronic service, or wireless communication
  • Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria)’s SB 81 to expand current law to allow expert witnesses in cases of domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking to explain victim behavior
  • Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)’s SB 87 to expand sentencing of defendants convicted of child pornography if the child victim is under 10 years of age or prepubescent.  It also creates the Task Force on Child Pornography

“PCAR greatly appreciates the continued support and advocacy of our legislative partners to advance these meaningful laws,” PCAR CEO Karen Baker said. “The breadth and scope of each show how much work still needs to be done to end sexual violence but the bi-partisan support and resolve of the legislators that championed these bills are deeply encouraging that we are making tremendous progress.  We hope that this will continue with the other legislative priorities sexual violence advocates are seeking this session including statute of limitations reform for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.”