|December 19, 2019 04:17 PM
|Representative Meghan Schroeder and Rep. Natalie Mihalek, Rep. Marci Mustello, Rep. Valerie S. Gaydos, Rep. David H. Rowe
|All House members
|Human Trafficking Package
|Human trafficking may be hidden in the shadows, but it remains a vile and dangerous threat in our Commonwealth. For this reason, in the near future, we intend to introduce a package of bills updating various aspects of Pennsylvania law to combat human trafficking.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received more than 3,700 human trafficking-related calls from Pennsylvania. Case files were created on more than 900 of them, and more than 800 of those were considered high levels of human trafficking. The average age a child is forced into sex slavery is 12 years old. More than 300 human trafficking cases were reported last year in Pennsylvania and Maryland combined. These cases, which often go unreported or underreported, are found not just in Philadelphia and Allegheny County, but also in areas such as York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, State College, Erie, Williamsport, Altoona, Allentown and along all of the major transportation corridors of Pennsylvania.
Introduced as HB2174
|Bill #1 (Mihalek)
This bill will amend the Human Trafficking statute, specifically Section 3018 of Title 18, to prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization in any prosecution arising under Chapter 30 (relating to human trafficking).
Section 3018 prohibits the introduction of evidence based upon the victim’s prior sexual history. Historically, that provision tracked the language of Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law. Through the enactment of Act 24 of 2019, the Rape Shield Law currently proscribes the introduction of evidence relating to a victim’s past sexual conduct, opinion evidence of a victim’s past sexual conduct, reputation of a victim’s past sexual conduct, evidence of a victim’s past sexual victimization, and allegations of sexual victimization.
This legislation ensures that victims of human trafficking are afforded the same protections as victims of other sexual offenses under Chapter 31 and prohibits the introduction of evidence that would further re-victimize human trafficking victims and discourage other victims from testifying.
Introduced as HB2175
|Bill #2 (Schroeder)
This bill will amend Section 5920 of Title 42 to expand the list of offenses where an expert may testify about the dynamics of sexual violence and victim responses to sexual violence.
This legislation is necessary as a result of amendments to existing sexual offenses and the creation of additional sexual offenses (human trafficking) in the Crimes Code. Significantly, this legislation will strengthen the ability of prosecutors to combat sexual violence and human trafficking throughout Pennsylvania by permitting experts to testify about the dynamics of victim behavior. Such testimony is critical in sexual violence cases as it assists the trier of fact in understanding the complexities of such behavior, including the reasons victims often refrain from reporting their experiences to law enforcement.
Introduced as HB2176
|Bill #3 (Mustello)
This bill will amend the Crimes Code, specifically Section 6318 of Title 18, to add certain prohibited activities that, if committed, constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor. This legislation is necessary as a result of amendments to existing sexual offenses and the creation of additional sexual offenses (human trafficking) in the Crimes Code. Significantly, this legislation will strengthen the ability of police and prosecutors to combat sexual violence and human trafficking throughout Pennsylvania.
Introduced as HB2177
|Bill #4 (Gaydos)
This bill will amend Section 9718.1 of Title 42 to expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to attend and participate in a Department of Corrections program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders. This legislation is necessary as a result of amendments to existing sexual offenses and the creation of additional sexual offenses (human trafficking) in the Crimes Code. This bill will require any offender that subjected a minor to sexual servitude to undergo treatment while in prison, thereby helping to reduce recidivism.
Introduced as HB2178
|Bill #5 (Rowe)
This bill will amend Pennsylvania’s child custody statute to require that a court consider whether a party or member of that party’s household has been convicted of human trafficking prior to awarding child custody to that party. Currently, the statute requires this kind of special attention for violent offenses such as homicide, sex offenses and kidnapping. This bill will add both human trafficking and strangulation to this list of offenses.