Governor Wolf on Statewide Media Call: General Assembly Must Make Victims’ Support Its Top Priority

September 19, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf hosted a statewide media conference call with Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm to reiterate the administration’s support for the grand jury recommendations and to call on the General Assembly to advance several outstanding bills that support victims of crime and abuse.

Governor Wolf delivered the following remarks during today’s media conference call:

I’m proud to be here today with Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm and I thank her for her leadership on behalf of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable.

The gut-wrenching grand jury report on sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church is a stark reminder that our laws are failing too many victims of crime, abuse and harassment.

Over the past two years, I have championed dozens of bills to support and protect victims.

I have endorsed bills for victims of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, gun violence, sexual harassment, hazing, human trafficking, and more.

I am ready to sign these bills. I want Pennsylvania to continue to lead the nation in supporting victims. But the General Assembly must act.

So, I am calling them to action. Starting on Monday and over the next few weeks, the General Assembly must make victims and all of these reforms their top priority.

It would be an absolute travesty for these issues to continue to be unaddressed by our lawmakers.

I want to highlight a few of these issues briefly:

On child sexual abuse, we know from the grand jury report that these victims were oppressed and silenced by an institution that they trusted and felt obligated to obey.

The reforms laid out in the Grand Jury report would deliver what victims deserve.

The Church, as a moral authority with a long and important record of social justice, should agree. We cannot shortchange these victims and we must set an example for the country – and the world – that Pennsylvania stands with victims.

The House and Senate should send the reforms laid out in the Grand Jury report to my desk without any hesitation.

On domestic violence, in October 2017, I endorsed five bipartisan Senate bills to combat domestic violence. To date, all these bills have passed the Senate but only one has made it to my desk.

Domestic abuse is a scourge on our society. It destroys families and traps too many victims in a cycle of violence and fear that they cannot escape.

We must keep guns from domestic abusers and give victims more protection and resources.

The House must advance these reforms before its session ends. It would be a travesty to let one more victim go unprotected because of a failure to act.

On sexual assault and harassment, we know from the last few years that both sexual assault and harassment are issues where improvements must be made.

My ‘It’s On Us’ legislative package would help universities and high schools curb sexual assault on campus and provide protections for victims.

Earlier this year, I stood with our victim advocate, advocacy groups and many legislators to announce nearly two dozen bills to provide more protections for victims and to better hold perpetrators accountable. None of the bills have received a vote.

I implore the House and Senate to take action on both of these issues.

Over the next few weeks, the General Assembly has an unprecedented opportunity to make huge and sweeping progress for victims of crime, abuse and harassment.

I hope that they will rise to the occasion and make this their primary priority, so we can reaffirm that Pennsylvania is a national leader in supporting and protecting victims.

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