Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State: The Cover-Up Prompts Reporting Legislation

The Penn State sex scandal and cover-up will bring about a host of new legislation regarding the responsibility to report the sexual abuse of children. Jerry Sandusky is accused of assaulting at least eight boys including an assault witnessed by a graduate assistant football coach in the football locker room.  The assistant coach reported it to head coach Joe Paterno, who turned it over to the athletic director. 

"The sad thing is, Paterno didn't violate the law" by failing to notify authorities, Pennsylvania state Representative Kevin Boyle, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"He just kicked it upstairs, which was legal," Boyle said. "I'm hopeful this situation will get the legislature to act on some bills we should have acted on a long time ago."

He is among several lawmakers, including Representatives Louise Bishop, a Democrat and Todd Stephens, a Republican, calling for legislation that would make it mandatory to promptly report suspected sex crimes against minors, repored the Inquirer.

Philadelphia-based Justice4PAkids has pressed for action in recent weeks by the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee on measures sponsored by Democratic lawmakers to mandate reporting by anyone with knowledge of sexual abuse incidents to law enforcement agencies and repeal the statute of limitations on victims filing civil and criminal lawsuits related to child sex abuse cases, reported the The Legal Intelligencer.

Two other bills would provide a one-time, two-year window in which victims barred from filing lawsuits against abusers due to time frames under current state law could file civil suits against abusers and make child sexual abuse cases an exception to "sovereign immunity" laws that protect public institutions from being liable for actions.

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