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Pennsylvania Increases Penalties for Child Abuse and Child Porn

In reaction to the sensational Jerry Sandusky and Catholic clergy molestation scandals, the Pennsylvania Senate has approved one more bill in a broad response aimed at stiffening penalties for child pornography and abuse. In December 2013, the Senate approved a bill to increase the degree of child pornography crimes, up to as high as a first-degree felony for a second offense if the material depicts indecent contact with a child.

In September, the Senate unanimously approved six other bills designed to strengthen child abuse laws. The bills provide more clarity regarding who can be considered a perpetrator of child abuse, and who must report it to authorities. One bill increases the punishment for people convicted of covering up child abuse, and another requires medical professionals to report suspected abuse immediately to the county child welfare agency. The expanded definition of “perpetrator” includes relatives who do not live with the child, ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends and ex-spouses of a parent. Yet another piece of legislation ensures that the identity of an attacker does not need to be determined before a case of child abuse is included in the state’s official statistics. Child welfare advocates have long complained that Pennsylvania statistics are understated because of the identity of the attacker requirement.

Crimes against children are serious, with serious penalties. If you are facing child abuse or child pornography charges, contact David Jay Glassmanfor a skilled criminal defense attorney.