Giving victims and survivors a voice....

Pennsylvania House Republicans are taking action to strengthen the protections for victims of crime.  Just as those accused of a crime have certain rights, we need to ensure crime victims are treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire criminal justice process. 

Legislative action is being taken to put victims and survivors at the forefront to ensure public safety and provide support to victims of crime, abuse and harassment. While any crime is a war against all the people, the victims of those violent and sexual crimes must be foremost in our minds. Whether they are victims in our communities or survivors in the workplace, their voices must be heard, their rights protected and their interests preserved.

News Updates from PA House Republicans on Protecting Crime Victims

April to Be Victim Month in PA House

Gregory Announces House Passage of PA Hidden Predator Act

Ecker Bill Ensuring Strangulation is a Major Offense Passes House

Thomas Bill to Require Pension Forfeiture for Sex Crimes Passes House

House Approves Kauffman Bill Expanding Protections for Child Testifiers

House Approves Hershey's Bill to Empower Victims in Court

House Approves Delozier’s Victims Bill of Rights

Kauffman: House Judiciary Committee Advances PA Hidden Predator Act to Support Child Sexual Abuse Victims

House Passes Mihalek’s Victim Protection Bill

Committees Support Owlett Bills to Ensure Proper Care of PA Children

House Passes Murt Bill to Criminalize Female Genital Mutilation

Kauffman, Boback Call on Inspector General to Investigate DHS Handling of Grace Packer Case

Legislation to Help Protect Victims and Survivors
= passed in PA House

To better protect crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers, bills to be considered include

 House Bill 276  is a joint resolution, known as Marsy’s Law and would add a victim’s bill of rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution. 

 House Bill 502  would ensure victims can attend proceedings against their abusers. 

 House Bill 503  would help victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism to submit out-of-court statements rather than face their perpetrators in court. 

 House Bill 504 would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination by ensuring that prior sexual assaults or other prior acts of victimization against a rape victim cannot be used at trial for the purpose of attacking the victim’s character. 

 House Bill 505 would expand the types of crimes in which out-of-court statements by child victims or child witnesses could be admitted by the court, avoiding further trauma for the affected children. 

 House Bill 755 would expand resources for employers and employees in the prevention of and response to workplace sexual harassment. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) would be charged with developing model sexual harassment policies, as well as providing sample training programs for workplace implementation. In addition to these resources, the bill would require the PHRC to establish a hotline for the purpose of reporting sexual harassment and to assist employers and employees in gathering information and materials related to sexual harassment.

 House Bill 975 would prohibit the Commonwealth from using taxpayer dollars to compensate—on behalf of and protection of an assailant who works for the Commonwealth—a victim of sexual assault. This legislation would NOT prevent a victim of sexual assault from bringing action against the Commonwealth for damages, if the Commonwealth employs a victim of sexual harassment or assault, the incident allegedly occurred in the workplace, and the Commonwealth entity allegedly knew about the incident and allegedly failed to act to prevent future incidents.

 House Bill 854  would treat strangulation as a major offense to help protect against domestic abuse and sexual violence.  

 House Bill 991 would require pension forfeiture for sexual offenses committed by public officials and employees.

A two-bill package known as The Pennsylvania Hidden Predator Act:

 House Bill 963  would amend the state Constitution’s provisions regarding the statute of limitations. Specifically, the bill proposes to amend Section 11 of Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution (known as the “Remedies Clause”) providing a two-year window for anyone for whom a statutory limitations period has expired to commence action arising from childhood sexual abuse. 

 House Bill 962 would also address the state’s statute of limitations law by amending the crimes code to provide a prospective extension of the statute of limitations for commencing a civil action arising from childhood sexual abuse, eliminating the statute of limitations for criminal offenses of childhood sexual abuse, and waiving the defense of sovereign immunity in childhood sexual abuse claims for damages caused by actions or omissions constituting negligence. 

Legislation to Help Protect Children

The bills to help better protect the lives and welfare of children include: 

 House Bill 279  would provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child. The immunity would only apply when the person acts reasonably under certain circumstances. 

 House Bill 288  (known as Caylee’s Law), would increase the penalty for concealing the death of a child from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000. 

 House Bill 315  would establish the offense of female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The procedure is almost always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by female genital cutting. 

 House Bill 97 would make it illegal to sell minors “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” better known as vaping products. The legislation would also make it illegal for students to use these products on school grounds. This will help curb nicotine use by treating all nicotine products the same. (Passed the House March 26 by unanimous vote, awaiting Senate action.)