HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) bill to help ensure justice is served in cases where children are victimized was approved by the state House this week and now moves to the Senate for its consideration.
“We want to see justice served in every case, but it is especially challenging and important to achieve with cases involving children,” Owlett said. “My bill can make a difference in achieving justice for a child victim and his or her family, as well as ensuring offenders are taken off the streets so they cannot victimize anyone else.”
Watch Rep. Owlett’s comments about the bill here
House Bill 156
would amend the state’s Tender Years Hearsay Act, which permits the introduction of hearsay statements concerning violent or sexual offenses against children. Currently, a victim must be age 12 or younger to enable hearsay statements in the case. Owlett’s bill would increase the maximum age to 16, meaning hearsay statements may be presented from child victims age 16 and under. Allowing the statements would remain at the judge’s discretion.
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, Owlett said the legislation will provide additional protections to child victims and will ensure that offenders are brought to justice.
“This issue was brought to my attention by a local constituent, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to advocate for its passage to help child victims and their families,” Owlett said.
The bill now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler