DA candidate Ryan backs bills to support abuse victims

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Deb Ryan

Deb Ryan, Democratic candidate for Chester County District Attorney, fully supports the Pennsylvania legislature’s efforts to support domestic abuse and sexual abuse survivors. Ryan states, “PA House Bill 962, the PA House proposed Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment, and Act 79 are three very important pieces of legislation to protect our commonwealth’s citizens.”

House bill 962 eliminates the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes and the proposed constitutional amendment permits a retroactive two-year period for civil lawsuits related to child sexual abuse on cases in which the statute of limitation has expired. Under current law, a child sexual abuse survivor has until the age of 50 to file a criminal complaint and age 30 to file a civil suit.

“We know that child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes. At least one in ten children will experience child sexual abuse before age 18, but most will either delay reporting for months or years, if they come forward at all. HB 962 and the PA constitutional amendment related to sexual abuse will allow survivors to seek the justice they deserve. Child sexual abuse is a public health epidemic. The long-term consequences can have devastating implications, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction and other serious consequences,” Ryan explained.

As a prosecutor, Ryan handled thousands of cases involving sexual assaults and child abuse. Most notably, as Chester County Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Child Abuse Unit and Children’s Advocacy Center, she prosecuted defendant Warren Yerger, a father who was convicted by jury of more than 150 counts of child abuse for the sexual and physical abuse of his four children over the course of 20 years, earning him the sentence of 339-690 years, the highest sentence in Chester County’s history.

She continues this important work as the County Coordinator in charge of the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative at the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, Inc. where she leads the first comprehensive initiative anywhere in the United States that provides prevention/education programming to children and adults to eradicate child sexual abuse.

Act 79 ensures that those convicted of domestic violence or subject to final restraining orders must surrender their firearms within 24 hours. In addition, they must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. They cannot give their guns to a friend or family member.

Ryan states, “I appreciate that Governor Wolf has signed Act 79 into law. Any step that Pennsylvania takes to provide support of and protection for survivors of violence and abuse in any form is a step in the right direction. The health and quality of our community must be defined by our willingness to safeguard our most vulnerable members. A victory for each of these pieces of legislature is a victory for all Pennsylvanians.”

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