Legislation to Further Protect Children
June 6, 2014
HARRISBURG - The
State Senate today approved legislation to further protect Pennsylvania
children from sexual abuse and impose a mandatory minimum sentence for murder
of a child, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25).
Scarnati explained that
House Bill 112 was passed by the full Senate by a vote of 45 to 1.
The legislation was
introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Vereb and would
establish specific guidelines to punish athletic coaches, trainers or other
sports officials who have sex with a child-athlete who is under 18 years
old. The bill also creates the offense of “sexual assault by a sports
official,” which would be graded as a 3rd degree felony.
“Athletics are a
wonderful way for students to learn important teamwork skills and to have fun,”
Scarnati said. “Parents have a right to feel secure in knowing that their
children are safe when participating in sports and that child predators are not
able to use athletics as a way to harm children.”
In addition to
protecting children from sexual assault, Scarnati explained that he offered an
amendment to House Bill 112, which will also set a minimum of fifteen years in
prison for murder of a child who is under the age of 13.
“It has become apparent that our Commonwealth must do more to make certain that
child murderers are not given lenient sentences,” Scarnati stated.
“Sentences like the recent and appalling decision of only 6 – 12 years in
prison handed-down by Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner, to an individual who
was convicted of murdering multiple newborn babies while employed at Dr. Kermit
Gosnell’s abortion clinic, cannot continue.”
Scarnati noted that mandatory minimum sentences are not always appropriate in
Pennsylvania’s judicial system, however, it is needed in this instance as there
is currently no mandatory minimum sentence for someone convicted of a 3rd
degree murder of a child.
“Protecting our most vulnerable individuals in
Pennsylvania is our duty and responsibility,” Scarnati said. “We must do
all that we can to discourage and prevent these horrific crimes against
House Bill 112 will now
be sent back to the House of Representatives for concurrence.