Rep. Stephens’ Bill to Protect Students from Exploitation by Teachers Passed by House

Rep. Todd Stephens, center, praises Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, left, and Assistant District Attorney Kate McGill for helping craft the legislation that prohibits sexual activity between a teacher and any student.

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) continued his work protecting children by introducing, and now passing through the State House of Representatives, a bill proposed by his former colleagues in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. 

The bill makes it a felony for any teacher or school employee, including counselors and coaches, to engage in sexual relations with any student.  The bill was a collaborative effort between Stephens and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who, with Assistant District Attorney Kate McGill, focused the legislature’s attention on the issue last session.  A similar bill introduced last session by Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) and Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) died when the legislative session ended without the bill being brought before the House for a vote. 

“I want to thank Rep. Stephens and the legislature for recognizing the need for a new law to protect our children from educators who use their power to exploit students,” Ferman said. “The educational system is no place for sexual relationships between teachers and students. It violates a fundamental trust we place in our schools and teachers.” 

“Those entrusted with caring for our children’s education should never take advantage of that position to engage in sexual activity with students,” Stephens said. 

Under current law, sexual activity with students is criminalized when the student is under age 16. 

“This is not enough,” Stephens said.  “Teachers, counselors, and coaches hold positions of power over students no matter their age and should be held accountable when they violate that trust.” 

HB 924 makes such crimes a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.  It now moves to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration. 

“I want to personally thank my former colleague, Assistant District Attorney Kate McGill, who identified the need for the legislation and helped us craft it.  Her help was invaluable,” explained Stephens. 

“We must urge the Senate to take up this bill and make it the law in Pennsylvania.” 

State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  David Foster

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