Stephens Joins Gov. Corbett at Signing of Legislation to Protect Children from Predators
12/20/2011
HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) joined Gov. Tom Corbett and Montgomery County prosecutors for the signing of legislation to close loopholes to the state’s Megan’s Law and to prohibit sexual conduct between students and school employees.
 
Gov. Tom Corbett, front row center, signs legislation to close loopholes in Megan’s Law. With him on left are Rep. Ron Marsico and Crawford County District Attorney Francis J. Schultz, President of the District Attorney's Association. In the back row, from left, are Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Rep. Josh Shapiro, Rep. Mike Vereb, Rep. Todd Stephens, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kate McGill and Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman.


“I want to applaud the governor for acting quickly to sign into law this legislation that takes extra steps to protect our children from sexual predators, including my proposal to prohibit sexual conduct between students and school employees such as teachers and coaches,” Stephens said.

Senate Bill 1183 passed both chambers unanimously and included provisions offered by Stephens to make it a felony of the third degree punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000 for sexual conduct between a school employee and any student, regardless of age.

The initiative was first proposed by Stephens’ former colleagues, Samantha Cauffman and Kate McGill, from the sex crimes unit in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

“My office first proposed legislation prohibiting teachers from engaging in sexual conduct with students last session but it was never enacted. I want to thank Rep. Stephens for his hard work in getting this legislation across the finish line to protect Pennsylvania's children,” Ferman said.

Stephens’ legislation also has the support of Bucks County District Attorney David W. Heckler.

“This new law addresses issues we’ve faced right here in Bucks County. These new protections are vital to prevent those who would use their positions of authority to exploit our children,” Heckler said.

It also brought Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. 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 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.

The bill continues the existing practice that requires every sex offender to 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.

“I want to thank my former colleagues for their support. I’m thrilled we were able to enact this broad-based legislation protecting Pennsylvania's children,” Stephens said.

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