On behalf of Victims:
The assessment, finding that Bill Cosby is a Sexually Violent Predator, is of no surprise, given his decades of sexual abuse against women. The Office of Victim Advocate urges the courts to accept this recommendation and take Cosby into custody immediately. Any person deemed a Sexually Violent Predator should not be afforded the luxury of bail prior to sentencing.
On Charges Against Bedford County District Attorney
I am dismayed and disgusted to hear of the charges brought forth today against Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins whose function was to serve the community and be a voice for victims. His blatant abuse of power in exchange for sexual favors is symptomatic of the very underpinning of the #MeToo movement. I applaud the Office of Attorney General and the Pennsylvania State Police for taking swift and certain action against this predator. Targeting and preying upon individuals who are already in vulnerable situations is the very definition of a sexual predator.
Our office has received prior complaints of his intimidation tactics and his outright victims’ rights violations, of which we reached out to his office with no positive resolution. At that time, we encouraged the complainants to report this conduct to the Office of Attorney General, which was done.
We encourage any and all victims to please come forward to the Office of Attorney General using the special tip line set up, 724-332-7252. In addition there are supportive resources in your county and within the Office of Victim Advocate. Please contact us at 1-800-563-6399 or visit us at ova.pa.gov to find your local victim services agency.
You are not alone and you do not have to walk through this experience alone.
“The Office of Victim Advocate is currently working with our legal teams to determine how this impacts the crime victims who are registered with our office to receive SORNA notifications. Currently, OVA has 3,929 victims this decision impacts. At this time, OVA will continue to provide notifications to those registered crime victims. Any victims who are feeling the need to talk with someone about this recent decision are encouraged to call our office at 1-800-563-6399.”
~ Jennifer Storm, Victim Advocate
On Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Sexual Abuse Cases
The Office of Victim Advocate is disgusted and saddened to see yet another cover-up of sexual violence that spans decades with hundreds of victims. We applaud the Attorney General's office for the good work of uncovering the painful and horrific facts in this case that harkens back to the 1950’s-victims who otherwise would have no legal path to justice due to arbitrary and time-constrained statute of limitations in the state of Pennsylvania. The OVA strongly supports the outright elimination of any statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases. Victims must be supported and given all legal remedies that the courts can offer so that they may heal and find justice against the perpetrators who have harmed them.
What is further troubling in this case is that the “victim advocate” assigned to these cases was in fact solely advocating on behalf of the church. This is a gross manipulation in what victim advocates are in place to do and highlights the need for truly independent victim advocates whose only interests are for the safety and well being of the crime victims.
To fully understand how confusing our existing Statute of Limitations are, PCAR has created this infograph. (pdf)
On Juvenile Lifer Issue
The Supreme Court just ruled that Miller vs. Alabama (pdf) is retroactive. This means that the 514 juvenile offenders convicted of murder and currently serving life sentences in PA could now be eligible and considered for parole and potential release from incarceration. OVA has been continuously updating our affected victims, who include families and loved ones of those murdered in PA. We are currently working hard to inform and empower our victims about today's ruling and will ensure their voices are heard during any possible parole considerations that may result from The Supreme Court just ruled that Miller vs. Alabama is retroactive. This means that the 514 juvenile offenders convicted of murder and currently serving life sentences in PA could now be eligible and considered for parole and potential release from incarceration. OVA has been continuously updating our affected victims, who include families and loved ones of those murdered in PA. We are currently working hard to inform and empower our victims about today's ruling and will ensure their voices are heard during any possible parole considerations that may result from this court decision.