HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate this week voted to expand the law against institutional sexual assault to include assaults by caregivers on care-dependent individuals, closing a loophole that allows perpetrators to escape punishment, Sen Cris Dush (R-25) said.
Current law against sexual assault applies to institutions such as prisons, schools and law enforcement. It is premised on the fact that truly consensual sexual acts are not possible where someone is in a position of power over another.
Passage of Senate Bill 704 recognizes the same power disparity exists between caretakers and those in their care. Such individuals face additional challenges to reporting sexual abuse due to the circumstances that make them dependent upon others, including physical or cognitive disabilities, and mental and physical health struggles.
Expanding the law against institutional sexual assault eliminates the loophole that permits perpetrators to falsely claim that the victim consented.
“Sadly, individuals with cognitive and/or physical disabilities are at a higher risk for abuse, including sexual assault,” said Sen. Dush. “Closing this loophole improves protections for our seniors and other care-dependent adults.”
Senate Bill 704 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Zack Ankeny