HARRISBURG – Continuing efforts to combat human trafficking throughout the Commonwealth, PA Senators Cris Dush (R-25), Maria Collett (D-12) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) have officially introduced legislation that would remove the third-party control requirement to ensure that minors who are human trafficking victims have full access to appropriate services and support.
Under current Pennsylvania law, a minor that is exploited for commercial sex must identify a third party to be considered a victim of human trafficking.
“Sexually exploited children who have been subjected to immeasurable emotional and physical trauma should never have to identify their human trafficking perpetrator to justify or obtain the services that they desperately need,” emphasized Dush. “This combined legislative effort seeks to remove these unfortunate and unnecessary barriers that frequently preclude minors who are human trafficking victims from receiving the necessary relief and resources for restoration and healing.”
Sponsored by Senator Dush, Senate Bill 44 would remove third-party control from Titles 18 and 23 of the Pennsylvania criminal code. Senator 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).
“Human trafficking is increasingly prevalent in the United States, with Pennsylvania reporting among the highest number of cases in the country,” said Senator Collett. “Survivors of human trafficking in our Commonwealth should not have to wait until investigators identify a suspected perpetrator to access victim services. To ensure victims become survivors, early interventions like counseling, housing supports, childcare, legal assistance, and other supports are a must to begin the process of healing while the wheels of justice turn.”
Additionally, this package of bills would expand the authority already granted to officers appearing undercover as minors in Title 18. If passed, undercover law enforcement would be able to pose as a third party selling a minor into sexual exploitation.
“The General Assembly must build on its success of Act 1 of 2020 to fight human trafficking in every corner of the state and ensure that criminals are prosecuted,” Phillips-Hill said. “We need to support victims of human trafficking by removing barriers that prevent the most vulnerable child victims from getting the critical support services they need.”
According to the national human trafficking hotline, Pennsylvania currently ranks as the 9th highest state for reported human trafficking cases. During the past five years, charges have been filed in more than 870 human trafficking cases statewide.
For Senator Dush: Ty McCauslin, Communications Director at 717-787-7084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Senator Collett: Bailey Landis, Communications Director at 215-688-0493 or Bailey.Landis@pasenate.com.