Pa. House committees advance more grand jury recommendations on Catholic clergy abuse

Pennsylvania Capital-Star

April 15, 2019

By Stephen Caruso

House committees advanced legislation Monday that addresses recommendations from last year’s grand jury report on hundreds of “predator” Catholic priests, less than a week after the full chamber gave the OK to a civil window for older sex abuse victims.

Without any dissenting votes, the House Children & Youth Committee advanced a bill to increase penalties for failing to report child abuse, while the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that affirms the right of child abuse victims to break non-disclosure agreements to cooperate with law enforcement.

The penalties bill makes it a felony to knowingly not report child abuse to authorities. As for the NDA bill, those bound to silence by a legal settlement already can break it for a police investigation, according to sponsor Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne.

“Currently the silencing agreements are void, and continue to be void, but victims out there don’t believe it to be the case,” she said following the vote.

Her bill clarifies the provision in state law.

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