Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Tuesday advanced several pieces of a child abuse reform package stemming from the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy scandals.
Lawmakers gave final approval to measures to expand the definition of "perpetrator" in child abuse cases and toughen penalties for assaults against children under certain circumstances.
The bills now move to the Senate, which is expected to send them on to Gov. Tom Corbett.
The legislation is part of a multi-bill package that’s been in the works since shortly after Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, was arrested in late 2011.
The proposed new definition of child-abuse perpetrator as someone who has committed child abuse and includes the child’s parents, a parent’s current or past paramour and a person 14 or older who resides in the same home as the child. The bill also would automatically remove juvenile perpetrators from the state child-abuse database once they turn 21.
Another bill would make simple assault against a child younger than 12 a more serious offense that could be lodged against perpetrators as young as 18, instead of the current age of 21. The bill also would increase penalties for aggravated assault against children.