Burns: Key bill amendment ensures victims of child sex abuse know their rights in nondisclosure agreements

HARRISBURG, April 16 – Victims of child sex abuse who sign a nondisclosure agreement will clearly know their right to cooperate with law enforcement, under a key amendment sponsored by state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria.

Burns, known for his efforts in supporting statute of limitations reform for victims of child sex abuse, said his amendment to H.B. 1171 is essential. With Burns’ addition, the bill would explicitly ensure any settlement agreement contain a provision that clearly states, in bold print and in plain English, that the agreement does not prevent victims from discussing the abuse with law enforcement. All parties involved in a settlement would be required to sign directly under the provision to acknowledge they have read and understood it, Burns added.

“This amendment, which was unanimously approved in the House today, would implement one of the key recommendations from last year’s statewide grand jury report, making sure victims of child sexual abuse know they are not signing away their rights to talk with police about the abuse that happened, should they sign a nondisclosure agreement,” Burns said. “The bill – and my amendment – will apply to any victim of child sexual abuse, regardless of the perpetrator.”

Burns, who announced plans to introduce similar legislation last week, said he worked across the aisle with his Republican colleague to add this crucial measure to the bill.

“This amendment adds a key component that takes the bill a step further to ensure all child sex abuse victims know their rights,” Burns said.

The amended bill is expected to be voted on by the House tomorrow.