Stephens Proposal to Protect Students Sent to Governor
12/15/2011
HARRISBURG – Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) praised the House and Senate for sending to Gov. Tom Corbett legislation to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, while closing loopholes to the state’s Megan’s Law.

Senate Bill 1183 also included provisions proposed by Stephens to prohibit sexual conduct between students and school employees making it a felony of the third degree punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000. This initiative was first proposed by Stephens’s former colleagues on the sex crimes unit in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

“We must insure our children are protected from sexual predators,” Stephens said. “The package sent to Gov. Corbett incorporates many proposals offered to make sure the law effectively guards our kids from harm, including my proposal to criminalize sexual conduct between students and school employees such as teachers and coaches.”

The Adam Walsh Act is a federal law that was developed in order to ensure every state has the same set of comprehensive standards that strengthen the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs. Under federal law, failure of any state to come into what the Department of Justice terms “substantial compliance” with the Adam Walsh Act results in a state forfeiting 10 percent of its federal grant.

In keeping with the dictates of the Adam Walsh Act, the legislation: 

        • Places offenders in a three-tiered system depending upon the severity of the offense. 
          Individuals convicted of a: Tier I offense must register for 15 years; Tier II offense 
          must register for 25 years; and Tier III offense must register for life. 

        • Requires sex offenders in each tier to appear in person to be photographed and to 
          verify and update information in the state sexual offender registry. Sexual offenders in 
          the three tiers are required to appear annually (Tier I), every six months (Tier II), or 
          every 90 days (Tier III). 

        • Requires that after a sex offender registers or updates registration in the sexual 
          offender registry, notification be provided to law enforcement, probation and parole, 
          schools and social service agencies responsible for protecting children. 

        • Authorizes the Pennsylvania State Police to launch a new feature on the sexual 
          offenders website that will enable members of the general public to obtain information 
          on sex offenders for any given ZIP code or geographic radius. 

In addition, the legislation maintains the major components currently found in Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law and closes loopholes for homeless and out-of-state sex offenders.

As is the current practice, the bill provides that every sexual offender be assessed by the Sexual Offender Assessment Board. Further, the bill requires that if certain criteria is met that the offender be designated a sexually violent predator. Such a designation, as under current law, requires that notification be made to neighbors and others in the community.

Senate Bill 1183 passed the House with a unanimous vote. This bill will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.

“It is critical we protect our children from those who would abuse their positions of trust and superiority,” Stephens said. “We should never tolerate teachers or coaches having sexual contact with our students.”

State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact:
David Foster
215-744-2600
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