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Pa. Gov. Corbett inks post-Sandusky child-abuse bills

Published: Wed, December 18, 2013 @ 1:06 p.m.

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania enacted its first new laws today in the Pennsylvania Legislature’s wide-ranging response to the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse scandals.

Gov. Tom Corbett made two of the bills official during a morning signing ceremony at the Pennsylvania Child Resource Center in the Harrisburg suburb of Mechanicsburg, saying they give communities more tools to protect children.

Lawmakers acted to update nearly 20-year-old state laws on how cases of suspected child abuse are defined, investigated and punished.

One of the new laws expands the definition of who investigators can consider a potential perpetrator of child abuse.

Another addresses a longstanding complaint of child-welfare advocates by lowering the threshold for the kind of injury or pain that is considered child abuse.

Various other bills deal with false reports and intimidation, foster joint investigations between police and child-welfare agencies, order the state sentencing commission to issue guidelines for child-pornography cases and prevent the names of child victims from becoming public.

About 20 bills are part of the legislative package. Corbett planned to sign eight other measures later in the day.

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