Pennsylvanians are increasingly turning to a 2-year-old Pennsylvania law that expanded protective orders for victims of sexual violence and intimidation, and state lawmakers are debating whether to make additional improvements to the system.
The Sexual Violence and Intimidation Act that went into effect in July 2015 created two new types of orders beyond “protection from abuse” orders , widely referred to as PFAs, that have long been available to restrict contact from an intimate partner or a family member.
The new legal mechanisms are protection-from-intimidation orders, designed to help children who are being harassed or stalked by non-family members who are adults, and sexual violence protection orders, for victims of sexual violence whose attackers are not family members or dating partners but strangers, friends, acquaintances and the like.
Pennsylvania State Police say courts have issued 315 temporary and final protection-from-intimidation orders so far this year, up from 310 last year and 187 during part of 2015. The number of sexual violence protection orders is already 552 this year, compared to 470 last year and 260 during the second half of 2015.
Donna Fry helped her underage daughter obtain a protection from intimidation order in the Philadelphia suburbs against the man who had sexually assaulted her, giving mother and daughter some peace of mind.
“I do see some value in it, because if he screws up, he’ll go back to jail,” Fry said. “In that sense, I see value. At the same time, he was driving up and down my street at one time, we had to call police about it.”
The new protective orders are still far eclipsed by the number of PFAs, said York County Prothonotary Pam Lee.
Her office has handled 40 of the new orders over the past two-and-a-half years, compared to nearly 2,000 conventional PFAs during that same period.
Lee said parents helped their child obtain a protection-from-intimidation order against a coach. Most of the PFIs through Lee’s office have been for harassment of some sort.
The sexual violence orders “get a little bit more horrible,” Lee said. “We’ve had a neighbor who asked to use a phone and sexually assaulted a minor. We have one where one parent filed against another on behalf of the children who were witnessing sexual acts in the home of the person they were filing against.”
PFAs are much better known, but the new orders are filling a real need, said Mary Onama, executive director of the Montgomery County Victim Services Center.
“The victims that have used it in our agency have found it to be a very important remedy for them,” Onama said. “They have said, at least somebody listened and recognized that we need it.”
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, who sponsored the legislation to expand protective orders, said that for many years addressing abuse was not a major priority.
“Society is changing,” Greenleaf said, noting the public outrage over reports of sexual abuse of women. “That’s what we have to do, is we have to try to educate people about these things.”
Other changes to state law regarding protective orders are pending in the Legislature, including bills that would make available police or deputies for protection for the time when a protective order is being served on someone, end the practice of turning over firearms under a court order to a third party instead of to police or a gun dealer, make it easier to extend an order if someone is getting out of jail and let judges use risk assessment tools when setting bail for defendants in domestic violence cases.
There are also proposals to let judges order electronic monitoring along with PFAs and to make it easier for victims to end shared telephone contracts with abusers.
This weekend, it’s time to turn on the lights for the Christmas season as Downtown Carlisle Association hosts its annual “Santa Comes to Town” event Friday and Saturday.
The weekend celebration kicks off with activities accompanying the DCA’s “Light Up The Night Christmas” parade.
Leesa Braun, who co-chairs the parade committee for DCA with her husband, Trey, said costumed characters will be performing skits and interacting with early arrivals prior to the parade.
“Dickinson College theater students are going to be dressing up. So we’re going to have elves. We’re going to have Rudolph. We’re going to have Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch,” she said.
About 40 units are expected to participate in the parade. All of the units have been asked to incorporate lights in some way so as to fit the theme of the evening. Emceeing the night is Red 102.3 hosts Rick on Red, Cody Lee and Phil The Thrill.
As in the past, those coming to the parade may donate toys to Toys for Tots by placing donations in the collection bin located at Denim Coffee Shop before or after the parade.
The parade begins at 7 p.m. and follows the usual route from East North Street to Hanover Street, but there is a significant change in that it will end just after the intersection of Hanover and Pomfret streets.
“It’s also important to know that the turnaround point is different than most parades in Carlisle, and different from last year. We’re cutting it short. It’s not going the whole way down to Wendy’s,” Trey Braun said.
That change allows the guest of honor, Santa Claus, to remain in the parade through the Square to the turnaround point. Then, he will come back up to the Square where Mayor Tim Scott will welcome him to Carlisle and present him with a key to the city. Then, Santa will throw his magic dust, which will turn on the lights on the Christmas tree.
From there, Santa will move to the his house on the Square where photos may be taken with him. Trey said no photos will be taken with Santa prior to the parade.
After last year’s large turnout, organizers this year have planned for rope lines to guide visitors to Santa’s house. The line will form until 8 p.m., and then it will be closed to newcomers.
The photos will be done by Cindy Strupp of Revelation Photography.
Mary Ann Brath, program coordinator at DCA, said Santa’s old house has been remodeled for use as a concession booth for both Christmas and Ice Art Fest, scheduled for February 9-11.
The concession booth will offer hot chocolate and hot cider.
The Army Brass Quartet will play music for a community Christmas carol sing. Songbooks will be available, but Trey said they are requesting that the books be returned at the end of the event so that they can be reused next year.
As in previous years, Benchfield Farms will offer carriage rides after it delivers Santa to the Square. Carriage, sleigh and wagon rides will continue to be offered as weather permits on Fridays and Saturdays through Christmas, with rides on the weekend before Christmas by reservation only for private parties.
Reservations for all other rides are not required, but are recommended, said Traci Morrison of Benchfield Farms.
Morrison said the farm used to do an event at the Army War College, and those who saw the horse trailer would ask where they could get rides. They got in touch with Downtown Carlisle Association and began offering carriage rides a few weekends each season.
“It has really blossomed to where we have a lot of people coming out,” she said. “It’s really neat to see the Christmas spirit it brings out in people.”
Following the caroling at 9 p.m., “Home Alone” will be shown at Carlisle Theatre. Admission is free, and concessions may be purchased. There will also be door prizes for children and adults.
Trey Braun encouraged downtown businesses to stay open for the parade and its activities.
“If the downtown is open, all those people that will be coming to the parade will remain downtown and continue shopping and eating and drinking,” Trey said.
Leesa Braun said that those going to the parade should also take advantage of what the downtown has to offer.
“I think we’d also like to encourage the patrons of the parade to take a break and go have dinner at one of the restaurants in town before the parade starts. Make a fun night of it with the family,” Leesa said.
Brath said other downtown events that weekend are not run by the DCA, but add to the spirit.
Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy has organized its newest event to begin Dec.1 and continue through Dec.8. The inaugural “Spot the Santa” event features more than 20 businesses and retail establishments downtown. During that week, passports to participating businesses can be picked up at Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy, 56 W. High St.
Though the event is designed for adults, children can assist their parents as they look for a small Santa Claus figurine hidden inside each participating business throughout the week. When visitors spot the Santa in the business, the host business will stamp the passport. Passports can be picked up at any time during the week, and participants can take as much time as needed to complete the mission up through the 8 p.m. deadline on Dec. 8.
Completed passports are then returned to Georgie Lou’s for a discount card good for 10 percent off one item at each of the participating businesses as well as a chance to win a box of Christmas goodies from Georgie Lou’s.
First Presbyterian Church will host the annual Carlisle CARES wreath auction. The silent auction will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church courtyard.
Shop the Block will hold its annual “Shots with Santa” event Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Visitors can sample “shots” of food and beverages as well as take “selfie shots” at stores on West Pomfret and South Hanover streets.
The Carlisle Theatre will host its annual showing of “White Christmas” at 7 p.m. Saturday. The film will have the lyrics of its classic songs embedded on the screen. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $4 for children.
Only slightly removed from Downtown Carlisle, Christkindlesmarkt and the Market of Curiosities offer additional opportunities for shoppers to kick off the season.
Christkindlesmarkt will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. There’s no charge for admission, and the event offers holiday entertainment, food and more than 50 vendors.
Also on Dec. 2, the Market of Curiosities will be setting up shop from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Carlisle Expo Center if shopping with a dash of the circus and punk rock sounds intriguing. There is an admission fee of $3.
Sarah Taby, owner of Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb, hosts the event, which this year includes two performances by Circus Stella. The duo not only performs circus-style aerial and balance acts, but also features trained performing rescue dogs.
Circus Stella will perform at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Taby recommends arriving an hour ahead of the performances to ensure enough time to find parking, go through the entry line and take in the surroundings before finding a place near the stage.
The market will also host an open mic for kids, and Punk Rock Santa will visit.
Then, there’s the vendors.
“Some things are cute. Some things are curious, and some things are — I don’t even know what to say about that,” Taby said.
Preparation for the market begins in July when vendor applications are accepted. A jury pores through the applications to decide which ones best fit the market and have works available that are reasonably priced.
As a result, the Market of Curiosities features such oddities as Uniquely Morbid’s tiny dragons made from bones found in owl droppings, or Dark Rain Design’s animatronic robots made from old toys.
The market will also feature Copious Glass, marble art that last year attracted visitors to the show from as far away as New York.
Food vendors include Seve-N-Dots, John Kelley’s Seafood Connection and Falafel Shack. Beer and hard cider will also be available for sampling and for sales from local breweries.
The concept behind the market came from Taby’s years of accompanying her mother as she vended at tattoo conventions, and her own experience vending at shows such as the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly show. Taby thought Carlisle is a “cool place” that could host a curated show of interesting vendors rather than offering an open call for vendors.
“You don’t need to go to Brooklyn to find something cool,” she said.
One mother’s story touched Johnny Haver deeply.
They were attending the St. Katherine Drexel Church when she approached the Silver Spring Township youth. The woman had encouraging words about the Hugs for Hope drive he started with his older brother, Frankie.
“She said her child was at the Penn State Milton Hershey children’s hospital when he was younger,” said Haver, 17, a senior at Cumberland Valley High School. “She remembers him receiving a stuffed animal from a similar drive.”
The simple gift of the toy helped her son recover. The woman wanted to pass on her good will to the collection at the church and the school.
Four years ago, the siblings teamed up to launch an annual effort to gather new stuffed animals from the community to distribute to hospital patients Christmas morning.
“We always had so many stuffed animals as kids,” said Haver, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Haver. “We saw the joy they could bring us as children. We thought if the kids at the hospital could just receive one brand new stuffed animal for Christmas, it would provide hope for them.”
Starting Tuesday, collection bins will be set up in the high school office and main entrance for people to donate stuffed animals. Bins will also be available at the church.
Each year, the Haver family transports the stuffed animals from the collection points in Cumberland County to the hospital in Derry Township, Dauphin County. There, staff members allow the parents of patients to pick out a toy for their child to receive from Santa. Hugs for Hope is just one example of how Haver wants to have a positive impact on others.
“I believe one of my defining characteristics is being a strong leader,” Haver said. “What has molded me into a strong leader throughout the years is not just my desire to succeed, but more importantly my passion for helping others.”
Growing up, Haver made trips to State College to participate in the annual Thon to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund that benefits the children’s hospital. Both his parents are Penn State alumni.
Closer to home, Haver has been involved in the high school Mini-Thon as a communications committee member his sophomore and junior years and as a facilities committee co-chairman his senior year. The facilities committee is in charge of making sure all the equipment for each fundraising event is set up properly.
The most challenging event will be the actual Mini-Thon scheduled for March 9-10. As a co-chair, Haver works with about 50 volunteers.
“They come together for such an awesome cause,” Haver said. “My biggest emphasis as a leader is to just make sure everyone is included. Everyone has a role and should feel important because they are.”
He is also the National Honor Society president.
Outside of school, Haver participates in The Outreach Program for Soccer, a community-based program where high school students mentor special needs children on how to play soccer.
“We help them learn new skills,” he said. “They also learn how to work together as teammates. It helps them become better people. My freshman through junior year, I was a buddy paired up with a specific kid to help them out as a personal coach.”
This year, Haver is a captain in charge of organizing all the practices and drills for many of the youngest children in the program. One touching experience involved helping a girl get interested in the sport.
“When she first got there she didn’t really want to play soccer,” Haver said. “All she wanted to do was throw the ball over my head. I was discouraged. I didn’t think I would be able to teach her how to play soccer.”
His perspective changed after he realized the best approach was to be patient and make her happy rather than be strict with the rules. Haver started by having the girl practice how to throw a soccer ball into play.
Eventually he got her to kick the ball and to take the sport a lot more seriously. Now the girl is in a older group of students at a higher skill level. “It was a tangible way to measure progress,” Haver said.
From a young age, Haver has had a passion for math, his favorite subject. He also takes high-level science courses. After graduating, Haver plans to pursue a college degree in either biotechnical or mechanical engineering.
“I want to see my impact on the world,” Haver said. “I want to be able to apply math in the real world.” His first choice in higher education is the Schreyer Honors College of Penn State University where his brother Frankie is studying actuarial science.
In his junior year, Haver joined the Technology Students Association and at the state competition in 2017 he and his team earned a second place finish in scientific visualization for an animated clip on space mining. He was also part of a team that placed ninth in the state in the biotechnology category.