HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation authored by Rep. David Rowe (R-Snyder/Union) that would ensure human trafficking convictions are considered in child custody cases. House Bill 843
is part of a package of bills aimed at addressing human trafficking in the Commonwealth.
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud, or deception, with the aim of using them for forced labor or sexual exploitation.
Rowe’s bill would specifically add human trafficking offenses to the list of convictions affecting a child custody determination. If a party has one of these convictions and seeks child custody, the court must first determine that the party does not pose a threat of harm to the child before entering a custody order in the party’s favor.
“This bill will better help protect children by expanding the list of violent and serious offenses a court must consider before making a custody determination,” said Rowe. “Human trafficking goes beyond what you see in the movies – it takes on many forms of human exploitation. My bill will serve as one more checkpoint to make sure our children are in good hands.”
The package of bills also includes the following legislation:
• House Bill 231
would add certain acts to existing law that, if committed, constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor to include human trafficking offenses involving sexual servitude and other offenses involving sexual abuse of a minor.
• House Bill 246
would prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization in a human trafficking prosecution.
• House Bill 580
would expand the list of offenses for which an expert may testify on the dynamics of sexual violence in sexual assault and domestic violence cases to include human trafficking offenses involving sexual servitude and other criminal offenses involving sexual abuse of a minor.
• House Bill 753
would increase the grading for the offense of “Dealing in Infant Children” from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the first degree.
• House Bill 1096
would alter the venue for a statutory civil action available for a victim of the sex trade. Currently, an individual who is a victim of the sex trade may bring an action in the court of common pleas where the individual resides. The bill would allow such an action also to be brought in the court of common pleas where the alleged violations occurred.
• House Bill 1130
would add human trafficking offenses involving sexual servitude to the list of offenses requiring registration under the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
• House Bill 1147
would expand the list of offenses that require state inmates to attend and participate in a Department of Corrections program of counseling or therapy designed for sex offenders to those convicted of human trafficking offenses involving sexual servitude or other criminal offenses involving sexual abuse of a minor.
Each of the bills now goes before the state Senate for consideration.
If you or someone you know is the victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
Representative David H. Rowe
Pennsylvania House of Representatives