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Gov. Corbett signs expert witness testimony bill into law

HARRISBURG—Pennsylvania is no longer the only state to prohibit expert witness testimony in sexual assault trials. Gov. Tom Corbett signed HB 1264 into law June 29, which will allow for expert testimony in cases of sexual violence in late August.
The passage of HB1264 was led by co-sponsors Rep. Cherelle Parker and Rep. Kate Harper. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) is grateful for the leadership, persistence and understanding of victim needs demonstrated by the representatives, and to the survivors and advocates who shared real life stories to illustrate why this legislation was so badly needed.
The multi-year effort to pass this bill was a partnership between advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement, legislators and the Corbett Administration. We are proud of our relationship with the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association (PDAA) and thankful for their support.
Francis Schultz, President of the PDAA and District Attorney of Crawford County explained why allowing expert testimony about normal sexual assault victim behaviors is a pivotal element of community safety:
“These are extremely unique, specialized cases,” Schultz said. “Permitting experts to testify as to the effects that sexual assaults have on victims will give juries the necessary tools to make an educated credibility decision and access the facts of the case without bias and prejudice. We are extremely pleased the House and Senate approved this piece of legislation.”
PCAR’s CEO, Delilah Rumburg, added, “It was imperative that juries be provided with pertinent facts when they are deliberating a case. HB1264 provides juries with the most accurate ruler to measure victim testimony in sexual assault cases.”
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is the oldest and largest state anti-sexual violence coalition in the U.S. The organization represents 50 sexual assault centers that serve the state’s 67 counties. Each year these centers provide confidential services, at no charge, to more than 30,000 men, women and children affected by sexual abuse.