Stephens Backs Bill to Allow Expert Testimony in Sex Crime Cases
HARRISBURG -- In a move to help jurors better understand the behavior of a sex crime victim, Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) joined his colleagues in unanimously passing a bill to allow expert testimony on why minors may wait years to bring charges against their assailants.

“Pennsylvania is the only state that does not allow experts to testify in sex abuse cases,” Stephens said. “That’s outrageous. We need psychologists and other professionals to address questions about victim behavior following sex assault cases, including why someone abused as a child, might wait decades to report the assaults.”

House Bill 1264 would permit an expert to provide testimony on behavior that could be indicative of sexual assault, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder in sexual assault cases and other common psychological reactions to trauma.

As a former prosecutor and head of the Sex Crimes Unit in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Stephens understands first-hand how important permitting this evidence will be in delivering justice.

“It is not uncommon for young victims to bury the crime as a means of psychological self-defense,” Stephens said. “It can be traumatic for children to step forward. Expert testimony as to why there would be a delay between the crime and the reporting of it will prove immeasurably helpful to jurors as they seek the truth in these difficult cases.”

The bill, which has already passed the Senate, moves to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
David Foster
Share |