HARRISBURG – Sens. Cris Dush (R-25), Maria Collett (D-12) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) expressed gratitude to their Senate colleagues today for unanimously advancing their shared legislation to ensure that sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims always have full access to appropriate services and support.
Tragically, under current Pennsylvania law, any minor that is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.
“No matter how a district attorney chooses to prosecute, sexually exploited children should never be subject to the emotional and physical trauma of identifying their human trafficking perpetrator to obtain services that they desperately need for healing and recovery,” said Dush. “Enactment of this bipartisan, collaborative legislation would finally ensure that any child who is preyed upon for commercial sex will be legitimately recognized as a victim of human trafficking under the law.”
Sponsored by Dush, Senate Bill 44 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to victim services by amending Titles 18 and 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. In addition to the important changes this legislation makes to the trafficking section, Dush’s office worked with the Office of the Attorney General to modify Section 6318 to allow law enforcement to pose as a third party, or a seller, when working undercover.
“As we continue to ensure law enforcement have every resource they need to prevent, investigate and prosecute human traffickers, we must also do everything we can to make sure victims have the tools and resources they need to recover and thrive,” said Collett. “These bills will remove an unnecessary barrier to services like counseling, childcare, legal assistance and other supports that enable victims to become survivors.”
Collett’s Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act (Act 197 of 2012).
“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for building on the bipartisan success of Act 1 of 2020 to remain vigilant in our fight against human trafficking in every corner of the state and ensure that criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Phillips-Hill said. “This legislation will ensure that the most vulnerable victims of these heinous acts, children, are able to get the critical support services they need without hinderance.”
Senate Bills 44 and 45 now advance to the PA House for consideration.
For Senator Dush: Ty McCauslin, Communications Director at 717-787-7084 or email@example.com.
For Senator Collett: Bailey Landis, Communications Director at 215-688-0493 or Bailey.Landis@pasenate.com.