Future legislation to give student victims of sexual assault choice to expel abuser

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Lancaster County Senator Scott Martin is planning to introduce legislation in the coming days to give more protections to student victims of sexual assault.

"What this bill is going to do is put the power in the victim's hands to say, 'no I do not want my offender, who attacked me and raped me to come back to this school,'" said Sen. Martin.

Currently, someone found guilty in a juvenile court of sexual assault would serve time in a detention center. However, after that they usually return to school and sometimes their victim is still there too. The bill would allow the victim to decide if they want their abuser to be expelled. Right now, the victim's only option is to transfer school districts.

"So the only route out shouldn't be the victim has to flee everything normal that's going on in their life and their whole world," said Sen. Martin. "It should actually be the offender."

This bill would also take a burden off school districts having to make sure a victim and abuser are separated at school.

"I'd rather administrators and teachers spend their time educating our students," said Sen. Martin."Not having to worry about this."

Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm has talked about this issue with Sen. Martin. She says it's something she saw often at the local level and believes it's so important to give victims a choice.

"Maybe they don't want the student to go to another school, maybe that would cause them more harm because they become the student who is responsible for the other kid having to leave and it becomes a bigger bullying issue for that child," said Storm. "So it's always important to empower the victim and give them the choice."

Sen. Martin wants to make clear this bill would only apply to students found guilty of sexual assault in juvenile court, not accusations.

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