Lopsided Vote Moves Child Sex Proposal Through House
This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives moved to toughen penalties for people who do not report instances or suspicions of repeated child abuse. The bill also stipulated that nondisclosure agreements do not apply to reporting child molestation to the police for investigation.
These proposals came out of the grand jury report made last year that announced more than a thousand cases of child sexual abuse in numerous dioceses throughout Pennsylvania. The report, which made headlines worldwide and lead to a public outcry against such abuses and the institutions that harbor them, also named more than 300 Roman Catholic clergy who’d been involved in multiple incidents, dubbing them “predator priests.”
Lawmakers voted in favor of the new proposals 162-22.
State Lawmakers Also Consider Window for Child Sexual Abuse Claims
State representatives also unanimously approved a bill that demands that nondisclosure agreements include language that states that they do no prohibit cooperation with the police. In some instances, those involved in keeping instances of child sexual abuse quiet invoked nondisclosure agreements as a reason for not reporting.
Both bills were sent to the Senate. There, the top lawyer for majority Republicans said, they will be reviewed to see how they compare to legislation that was drafted in that chamber last year but never brought up for a vote.
Also under consideration by state legislators is another recommendation by the grand jury: a constitutional amendment that would create a two-year window to allow victims to bring civil claims over abuse that would otherwise be too old to pursue. Initial support for the amendment was high, but the legislation stalled before reaching a vote in the Senate over the summer. Lawmakers and advocates for victims of clergy abuse are hopeful that the two-year window will be passed into law, allowing victims an opportunity to seek justice.