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10/22/2019 04:45 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=29169
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: April 9, 2019 11:38 AM
From: Representative Frank Burns
To: All House members
Subject: Ensuring Child Sexual Abuse Victims Know Their Rights
 
A victim of sexual abuse – especially a child – should never be prevented from talking to police about abuse they’ve suffered.

That’s why I’m introducing legislation to implement one of the key recommendations from last year’s statewide grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. My bills would help to ensure victims who sign a settlement agreement know they still have a right to talk to law enforcement.

The grand jury report detailed a “playbook for concealing the truth” employed by the church, which sometimes included secret financial settlements aimed at silencing victims. A non-disclosure clause in a settlement does not prevent victims from sharing the facts of their abuse with police or testifying about the abuse in court. However, the grand jury report found many victims did not know the limits of these non-disclosure provisions.

Please join me in standing with child sexual abuse victims by ensuring their voices cannot be silenced by secret settlement agreements.



Document #1

Introduced as HB1383

Description: Proposal #1
My first bill would require any settlement agreement with a confidentiality clause to prominently include a disclaimer that contact with law enforcement is permitted and that any attempt to use the agreement to prevent or discourage such contact is illegal.  This clarification was recommended by the grand jury and is necessary to ensure victims know that they can talk to law enforcement or testify against their abuser. 
 

Document #2

Introduced as HB1384

Description: Proposal #2
My second bill would explicitly state that even in civil cases, victims of child sexual abuse can discuss the facts surrounding any incident in a settlement agreement, regardless of a non-disclosure clause.  This bill was modeled after similar legislation signed into law in California in 2016.