Lawmakers debate child sex abuse laws

HARRISBURG — A computer system that does not track child abuse complaints among counties. Hospital lawyers who keep doctors from sharing medical information on children they suspect are abuse victims. Low pay and high burnout for young, inexperienced social workers.

Those are three main reasons the training and laws governing how and when child abuse claims are handled need to be overhauled, according to Senate testimony Tuesday by members of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection.

"Child abuse is an extremely real problem in this commonwealth as it apparently is in our society and our nation," said the panel's chairman, Bucks County District Attorney David W. Heckler.

The Legislature started the 11-member task force to examine the state's patchwork of child protection laws after Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was arrested in 2011 on charges of sexually abusing children. In November, the task force called for rewriting Pennsylvania's child protection laws to streamline the reporting process, create new statutes and increase penalties for crimes such as possession of child pornography.

Since then about 14 bills have been introduced in the Senate and at least four bills have been introduced in the House.

On Monday, the House voted unanimously for House Bill 90. It would allow the state attorney general or a local district attorney to use an administrative subpoena, which does not require judicial oversight, to obtain a computer IP address and the name and address of a computer owner suspected of viewing online child pornography. Law enforcement would then need a court-order...


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Showing 2 comments

  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-04-10 16:50:45 -0500
    Wed., April 10, 2013

    Dear SNAP Directors,

    In a postscript to my comment just posted, please give all of us SNAP members an current (April 2013) UPDATE on the ICC filing and let us know if this case will go forward soon.

    Quoting again here a few of the leaders whose comments regarding the SNAP/CCR 2011 legal filing at the ICC in The Hague that you have already quoted, (but that many here on this site may not have read yet):

     The complaint to the ICC “suddenly reframes the issue in the public consciousness.” – Tim Kosnoff, Seattle attorney. Taken from the Seattle Times.

     “The ICC filing marks the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests.” – Nathan Koppel, WSJ contributor. Taken from the Wall Street Journal.

     “The Holy See is a sovereign, which like all other sovereigns, must be accountable for violations of human rights. SNAP’s action under the ICC is timely and appropriate. If successful, it will secure more protection for children not just against the Holy See, but all sovereigns.” – Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University

    I agree with each of these statements and just pray that all the survivors in SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) will, with the continued help of the CCR and the United Nations if necessary, will be successful in having their complaint heard and ruled on at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, soon.

    Lani Halter
    Please remember my motto, which is to remind others of: Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:41 and Luke 17:2.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-04-10 16:23:57 -0500
    Wed., April 10, 2013

    Dear SNAP members,

    I say “thank God” for a person like Mike McQueary. (And, a website like SNAP.) I don’t know, and hate to think how many more children (and their parents) would have suffered at the hands of Sandusky, and others there like him, if Mr. McQueary had not been willing to report the incident he saw, and then persevere to trial and conviction, even after his initial report was ignored and otherwise covered up and he was nearly completely vilified for being a “whistleblower” about such a heinous criminal predator. *(please see link to new article about current status of Mike McQueary and family)

    And, thank goodness the whole “Sandusky scandal” made the Pennsylvania legislature think about all children who have been, and/or are currently being afflicted and abused by pedophiles.

    Personally, I believe that this phenomenon is worldwide, (i.e. “global” in the current vernacular). And what’s more, I believe that amongst the primary places pedophiles are active predators, is in the Catholic Church, today, 2013.

    I believe that it will be necessary to have new pertinent laws in each of the individual countries, but also to have the criminal action brought against the pope and the Catholic Church at the ICC for crimes against humanity, commenced.

    Since I am an American and have been, my whole life, I will be extremely glad to have the USA (including current and former Catholics here) lead the fight against child sexual abuse, that sadly and heinously often includes not only rape, but production of child pornography, and ultimately, death of the victim; I will be glad that our country’s system of justice can and will be designed to help make sure everything is done to see the day when the scourge of pedophiles and the destruction of our children and our society and world, is STOPPED.

    Please keep up the good work and continue the battle through and on, even as Mr. McQueary brought himself forward to do.

    Best regards,
    Lani Halter
    Please remember my motto, which is to remind others of: Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:41 and Luke 17:2.


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