HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation, authored by Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), intended to help give young crime victims a fair chance at holding their perpetrators accountable.
Bloom’s proposal would expand what is known as the tender years exception, which allows for the admission of a child’s out-of-court statement due to the fragile nature of young victims of abuse.
“Current state law permits a hearsay statement of a child victim under the age of 12 to be used in court under certain conditions,” Bloom said. “However, the tender years exception only covers a limited number of sexual or violent offenses.”
House Bill 2321
would expand the tender years exception to cases involving human trafficking, incest, endangering the welfare of children (if the conduct involved sexual contact with the child), corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children and sexual exploitation of children.
“By expanding the list of crimes to which the tender years exception applies, we can give more abused children a chance to have their side of the story presented in court and bring more perpetrators to justice,” Bloom said.
House Bill 2321 is one of three House bills aimed at helping those who are victimized testify against their abusers.
Also included are measures to shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination and apply the tender years exception to individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism.
“It’s vital that we give our most vulnerable victims the legal tools necessary to hold their perpetrators accountable for these heinous crimes,” Bloom said.
House Bill 2321 now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
Representative Stephen Bloom
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abbey Haslam