Identifying and prosecuting more child molesters in Pennsylvania is the goal of new legislation introduced in Harrisburg.
If enacted, the so-called Child Rapist and Sexual Predator Detection Act would specifically require health care practitioners to report every case of pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease found in a child under 13 to the state attorney general and county officials.
Pennsylvania already has a mandatory reporting law on the books, but State Representative Tom Yewcic, a Democrat representing parts of Cambria and Somerset Counties, says it's not working well enough.
"Children are showing up on the radar screen who are either pregnant or have STD's, who are being reported by the Department of Health, but there is no accompanying police report or investigation. Child predators and sexual molesters are skating by through the system."
Republican State Senator John Eichelberger of Blair County, who has authored companion legislation in that chamber, says similar provisions enacted in California turned up hundreds of cases of child abuse by adults.
"We're not seeing sexual relations with children among themselves. We're seeing with people that are this age older adults, men particularly, having sex with kids that are 10, 11, 12 years of age. Or younger. And that is very disturbing."
Under the proposed law, health care workers would be required to try to verify the age of a child undergoing treatment through insurance or school records, and make a report on those under 13.
Failure to do so would result in criminal charges.