Camp Director’s Arrest Illustrates Need for Stephens Legislation on Mandatory Reporters

HARRISBURG -- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) today called on the state Senate to move quickly on passing his legislation, House Bill 436, to expand the list of those mandated to report child abuse. Stephens made his remarks following the arrest of a Montgomery County camp director who was alerted to a sexual assault on one of the children under his care, but failed to notify police.

“This case illustrates why it’s so important we expand the list of those required to report suspected child abuse and implement serious penalties for failing to meet those obligations,” Stephens said.

The July 4 incident occurred at a summer camp in Upper Perkiomen where a juvenile was sexually assaulted by two other juveniles. While camp counselors notified the director of the attack, he failed to report the crime. Police were alerted through an anonymous tip.  Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has arrested Ryan Wexelblatt for failing to report suspected child abuse and related charges.

“Fortunately the authorities received an anonymous tip,” Stephens said.  “Under my bill the other counselors would be required to notify authorities ensuring an investigation is initiated.  While we all are obligated to protect Pennsylvania’s children, those in positions of trust or who are responsible for caring for our children must be especially vigilant in reporting suspected child abuse.  I am hopeful this arrest will remind people of their obligations, and I hope it will urge the Senate to pass my bill and send it to the governor.”

House Bill 436 passed the House on June 24, and is now in the Senate Aging and Youth Committee. This legislation requires anyone who accepts responsibility for the care of a child to report suspected child abuse directly to authorities.  The bill also increases the penalties for failing to do so to a felony in the most egregious circumstances.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster
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