HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) bill to better support children who are victimized as they seek justice was passed today by the House State Government Committee.
“By far, one of our most important responsibilities as a society is to protect the health and safety of our children,” Owlett said. “While we do the very best we can to protect our children from being victimized, we also need to have the tools in place to ensure justice is served when crimes are committed against them.”
House Bill 2342
would amend the state’s Tender Years Hearsay Act, which permits the introduction of hearsay statements concerning violent or sexual offenses. Currently, a victim must be age 12 or younger to allow hearsay statements in the case. Owlett’s bill would increase the maximum age to 16.
“The Tender Years exception is a vital tool in delivering justice for some of the most heinous crimes committed against young children,” Owlett said. “Extending its availability to our older children is absolutely necessary to protect them and potentially prevent offenders from victimizing others.”
A fear of testifying is one of the primary reasons many sexual assaults go unreported. Child victims in sexual assault cases who do testify are routinely subjected to long periods of cross examination and are often forced to repeatedly describe the explicit details underlying any assault in front of a jury, the media and the offender. By extending the age from 12 to 16 in the Tender Years Hearsay Act, this legislation will provide additional protections to child victims and will ensure that offenders are brought to justice.
Owlett said the idea for the bill was given to him by local constituent. “It is my job to bring the voice of the people of the 68th Legislative District to Harrisburg, and that includes sharing your ideas and working to advance them through the legislative process.”
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler