– Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny) announced today that her legislation, House Bill 504
, to shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination, unanimously passed the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee.
“I am pleased to share that my bill unanimously passed out of committee today,” said Mihalek. “My bill aims to carefully expand the rape shield law to cover instances where the rape victim may be asked about prior victimizations or allegations of victimizations that he or she has made for the purpose of attacking his or her character.”
House Bill 504 expands the rape shield law to cover prior sexual victimizations. Under current state law, evidence of a victim’s prior sexual history is prevented from being introduced in court when that evidence is intended to be used to undermine his or her credibility, however, it does not cover instances when the victim has been sexually victimized in the past.
“Being a victim of an awful crime such as this and having to testify in court is hard enough as it is,” continued Mihalek. “When a victim is asked about having been sexually assaulted in the past in order to tarnish their character or reputation, that can be absolutely terrifying and even discourage other victims from coming forward.”
House Bill 504 also expands the number of crimes to which the rape shield law would apply to cover additional sexual crimes, such as human trafficking.
House Bill 504 is a part of a package of bills passed out of the House Judiciary Committee designed to better protect crime victims from abuse and violence by helping those who are victimized to testify against and confront their abusers.
Representative Natalie Mihalek
40th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Brooke Haskell