(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), held a meeting today advancing three bills focused on human trafficking and a fourth related to child abuse.
The following bills expand existing Pennsylvania statutes to include human trafficking:
HB 246, introduced by Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-40), ensures that protections offered to sexual abuse victims under the Rape Shield Law are extended to victims of human trafficking. Specifically, the legislation prohibits defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization, and allegations of past sexual victimization in any prosecution relating to human trafficking.
HB 843, introduced by Rep. David Rowe (R-85), requires the court to consider whether a party or member of that party’s household has been convicted of human trafficking when awarding child custody. This kind of special attention is currently required for violent offenses such as homicide, sex offenses, and kidnapping.
HB1147, introduced by Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-44), adds human trafficking to the list of sexual offenses requiring offenders to attend and participate in counseling and therapy offered through the Department of Corrections.
The final bill, HB 954,introduced by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151), allows criminal justice agencies to share critical information with others conducting child abuse investigations, such as the Department of Human Services, a children’s advocacy center, a multidisciplinary review team, or a child fatality investigative team.
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