Bill signed into Law as Act No. 124 of 2020

Harrisburg, November 25, 2020 − Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) is elated to announce  his Karen’s Law legislation is officially the law in Pennsylvania. The bill passed in the Senate in October and the House last week. Gov. Wolf signed the bill into law as Act No. 124 of 2020.

Officially Karen’s Law was signed as the House companion bill (HB-1538 – White). Sabatina agreed to this so as not to delay the process. In a show of bipartisanship, he pushed the companion bill through the Senate instead of waiting for his own Senate Bill to pass through the House.

“This is important legislation that survivors of sexually violent crimes so desperately needed” Sabatina said. “We had to get Karen’s Law to the Governor’s Desk before the close of the Session cycle, regardless of who sponsored it.”  

Karen’s law is named after Karen Widdoss-Milewski, a constituent of Senator Sabatina’s. She reacted to the news today.

“It’s a great feeling to turn something so horrific into something so positive,” Karen said, holding back tears. “This will help thousands of survivors!”

Karen further reflected on the deeper meaning and what the future may hold for her.

“I managed to survive what was intended to be my murder,” she said. “I sometimes wondered ‘Why am I here? What is my purpose?’ Well I’m here to help other survivors. I will continue to use my voice to help others. I’m not done yet.”

Karen’s Law affects parole application eligibility for inmates deemed Sexually Violent Predators or sentenced under one of the violent or sexual offenses listed in the legislation, allowing the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to increase the time between parole hearings from one year to three years.

“The fact that these survivors were re-traumatized year after year just to make sure their attacker served a full sentence was appalling,” Sabatina stated. “This law provides a measure of relief for them. We owe them a great deal as they are brave enough to face their accusers in court in the first place. Our communities are safer as a result of their sacrifice.”

Sabatina first met Karen Widdoss-Milewski in 2017 when she came into his office to discuss her situation and the re-victimization she faced on an annual basis. He quickly introduced the legislation then. In 2019 State Rep. Martina White joined Sabatina in pushing for Karen’s Law, which accelerated the process with bipartisan and bicameral support.

Sabatina thanked Rep. Martina White (R- Philadelphia) for sponsoring the House companion bill. 

“It goes to show the bi-partisan nature of this law,” Sabatina said. “It’s been a pleasure to have Representative White join us in this effort.”

Sabatina also expressed gratitude to the leadership in the House, Senate as well as Governor Wolf.

Karen’s law is supported by the  Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Radar Project, the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, Woman Organized Against Rape (WOAR), Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate, Pennsylvania FOP and Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association,  and countless survivors of violent crime. 

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