HARRISBURG >> Governor Tom Wolf on July 15 signed six bills that will expand protections and support for crime victims.
He was joined by Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, legislators and advocates at the ceremonial bill signing. Gov. Wolf first signed the bills on June 28.
“We’re here today to recognize a successful joint effort at bringing a package of bills across the finish line that will help ensure Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system supports victims,” Gov. Wolf said.
The bills include:
House Bill 315, which criminalizes female genital mutilation by making it a first-degree felony.
House Bill 502, which amends the Crime Victims Act to allow the victim to be present in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim’s own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses.
House Bill 504, which prevents prosecutors from bringing up the victim’s sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
Senate Bill 399, which makes updates to the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, including requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing, and storing rape kits.
Senate Bill 469, which establishes procedures protecting victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder, including allowing for testimony and questioning to take place outside of a courtroom.
Senate Bill 479, which expands the list of crimes for which an out-of-court statement made by a child under 12 can be used.
“This legislative session has been unprecedented and historic in its passage of laws that seek to protect crime victims in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Jennifer Storm said.
“These bills will make it easier for prosecutors to pursue justice by eliminating some of the deterrents that are keeping victims from speaking out,” Gov. Wolf said. “Victims have been through enough. They deserve the most support we can possible give them.”