— The Senate this week passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to increase the penalties for people who are aware of ongoing child abuse but fail to report it.
“I want the law to be crystal clear - anyone who knows of ongoing child abuse and fails to act will face harsh penalties under the law,” Stephens said.
House Bill 1051
applies the tougher penalty of third-degree felony as opposed to the current penalty of a first-degree misdemeanor for an “ongoing” failure to report continuing sexual abuse “while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the abuser is likely to commit additional acts of child abuse.”
During the 2017-18 session, the attorney general issued a grand jury report detailing horrific child abuse across the Commonwealth and recommending improvements to the mandatory reporting provisions in the Child Protective Services Law.
“In 2014, I rewrote our Child Protective Services Law, which became Act 32 of 2014, as it relates to those who are required to report suspected child abuse by virtue of their profession,” Stephens said. “In that act we dramatically increased the penalties for failing to report suspected child abuse. But the more recent grand jury report recommended a clarification for those tougher penalties.”
House Bill 1051 now goes to the governor for his signature.
Representative Todd Stephens
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster