Benninghoff-backed bill prohibits ARD for certain child sex offenses

The State House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously backed a bill to prohibit prosecutors from recommending, and the court from ordering, accelerated rehabilitative dispositions (ARDs) for a person charged with certain child sex offenses.

House Bill 632 — introduced by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte — applies to those charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or aggravated indecent assault, according to a news release.

Under ARD, the release said, a defendant must complete a period of supervision and fulfill court-imposed requirements so a formal conviction is not added to his or her record. The program was designed to help first-time offenders avoid life-long consequences of conviction.

“While the program serves a valuable rehabilitative purpose for other offenses, someone charged with the sexual assault of a child should never be given ARD,” Benninghoff said in the release. “This is about getting predators off the street. The safety and well-being of our children are too important to be left to chance.”