HARRISBURG – A bill that would allow an out-of-court statement by a crime victim or witness who has an intellectual disability or autism was passed by the House, according to the author, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union).
“Testifying in a court case is difficult, and even more so for those victims or witnesses with an intellectual disability and this legislation should help victims and prosecutors alike in the judicial system,” said Everett. “The bill would use the same process as out-of-court statements from children, known as the tender years exception. There would have to be verification by the court that the witness has an intellectual disability and the statement is relevant and reliable.”
House Bill 2325
would recognize that the Commonwealth has been unable, in many instances, to use reliable statements from those victims with intellectual disabilities, recognizing that, for some, testifying on the witness stand is impossible.
Everett said the bill is needed because of the high number of crime victims with intellectual disabilities.
“Evidence has shown that those with intellectual disabilities are four-to-10 times more likely to become crime victims and seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted,” said Everett. There are also the stereotypes that exist about the intellectually disabled.”
The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Garth D. Everett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Raymond Smith