Jim Struzzi, Cody's Law, Pennsylvania, felony
A pedestrian walks by the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo credit: Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock)

Pennsylvania Rep. Struzzi Introduces Bill to Make Injuring People with Disabilities a Felony

Pennsylvania State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, is trying to stir some momentum behind a bill, known as Cody’s Law, that, if it becomes law, would charge any individual who afflicts bodily harm to a person with a physical or intellectual disability with a second-degree felony.

Currently in Pennsylvania, in order for an assault on a person with a disability to be considered a felony, the victim must have suffered “serious bodily injury” for charges to be elevated beyond misdemeanor simple assault.

Cody’s Law is dedicated to Cody Overdorff, a young man with Williams Syndrome who was lured and attacked by four people in an Indiana County park on Aug. 20. A bystander captured video of the incident, and it was shared online.

Cody’s Law would broaden what could be constituted as a criminal offense, opening offenders up to being prosecuted for a felony.

Struzzi said that he would also co-sponsor similar legislation already under consideration that would add “intellectual or physical disability” to the list of factors to prosecute such an attack as a hate crime.

Related Article: Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Pushes for Hate Crime Bill in the State After Teen’s Alleged Plan to Attack Black Churchgoers

People with Williams Syndrome tend to be extremely warm and overly friendly, especially toward strangers who are older than them. Dana Detwiler, Overdorff’s mother, said at a fundraising event Saturday that Overdorff shouldn’t have been subjected to the attack just because of his friendly demeanor.

Struzzi said in a statement that the need for this bill was made “abundantly clear” after Overdorff was lured and beaten without provocation.

“I believe individuals who target vulnerable and helpless victims pose a significant threat to our society and should be subject to harsher penalties under the law,” Struzzi said.

The bill was publicly unveiled at Saturday’s benefit for Overdorff, who has since recovered from the attack and attended the event.

“We’re totally ecstatic about it, and that some good can come out of something so bad,” Detwiler said at the event. “We thank Rep. Struzzi so much for pushing for ‘Cody’s Law,’ and we hope they go on a mission now.”

Latest News

KPMG Lakehouse

Originally published on KPMG.com. Community and Careers website for KPMG’s new professional learning, development and innovation center in Orlando’s master-planned community of Lake Nona. KPMG is proud to join the greater Orlando and Lake Nona communities with the opening of KPMG Lakehouse, a world-class learning, development and innovation center. KPMG…

AIG’s Brandi Monique Shares her Mentorship Journey

AIG’s assistant vice president Brandi Monique shares the mentor relationships that led her to her success at AIG. Monique defines mentorship as an organic connection — rather than a formal relationship — between a mentor and mentee. Monique says from her early days at AIG, she sought potential mentorship relationships…

AIG Lynn Oldfield Named CEO of the Year

Lynn Oldfield Named CEO of the Year at Insurance Business Canada Awards  Lynn Oldfield, President and CEO of AIG Canada, was recently named CEO of the year at the Insurance Business Canada awards, in recognition of her “exceptional leadership” and other criteria in excellence. “This award is a reflection of…