HARRISBURG – At the start of a Judiciary Committee meeting this week that focused on legislation to support child sexual assault victims, Chairman Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) announced that he and Rep. Karen Boback (R-Wyoming/Luzerne/Lackawanna), chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee, had sent a letter to Pennsylvania Inspector General Bruce Beemer asking him to investigate the handling of the case of Grace Packer by the Department of Human Services.
Grace Packer was a 14-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by her adoptive mother and her mother’s boyfriend in 2016.
In the letter from Kauffman and Boback to Beemer it states that, “It has been widely reported that Grace Packer was severely abused for a great deal of her life, despite involvement of the child welfare system in Pennsylvania. The fatality review report recently issued by the Department of Human Services shows that Grace had contact with the child welfare system since she was a child of tender years.”
“Clearly, the system let Grace down in the most horrifying way possible and we want to know where that breakdown occurred and fix it so that other children don’t suffer the same fate as Grace,” noted Kauffman. “If there is something we can do in terms of legislation that would help address such situations, then we want to be aware and have an opportunity to address it.”
Also in response to the Grace Packer case, Boback is co-sponsoring legislation with Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) to create a 17-member joint legislative, executive and judicial commission to investigate, analyze and recommend improvements to the child welfare system. The commission would be patterned after the Interbranch Commission for Juvenile Justice, which investigated the Kids-for-Cash scandal in Luzerne County. That commission developed an extensive series of reform recommendations, the majority of which were implemented through legislation or by rule.
“Our legislation would provide another layer of protection for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Boback added. “The Grace Packer case is both disturbing and disappointing, because the system that should be doing all it can to ensure the safety of our children failed fatally. This cannot happen again.”
The letter to Beemer is here
Representative Rob Kauffman
Representative Karen Boback
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman