Pennsylvania to allow expert testimony in sex abuse trials

Democrat and Chronicle

By Jessica Tully, USA TODAY

The recent high-profile child sexual abuse court cases involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia Catholic Church officials had a missing element unique to Pennsylvania.

During each of those trials, state law did not permit expert witnesses to testify about sexual abuse.

One week after the verdicts in those cases, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, signed a bill into law today that makes the state the last in the nation to allow such testimony. The law will take effect in 60 days.

The law could come into play if prosecutors file additional charges against Sandusky or the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, D-Philadelphia, who began working on this bill in 2006. Parker said she thought it was “unjust and unfair” that such expert testimony was not allowed. The bill took about six years to pass through the House and Senate because case law, or rules established from previous cases, forbid expert testimony in the state, Parker said.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.