Penn State Sex Scandal: Tougher Laws About Child Abuse Necessary

As Penn State University struggles to do major damage control in the wake of charges of sexual abuse of eight boys by a former defensive football coach, Jerry Sandusky, and of the resulting firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier, state lawmakers are seeking to introduce legislation to tighten Pennsylvania’s laws about reporting child abuse. State Rep. Kevin Boyle, Democrat-Philadelphia, has announced a plan to that would require school officials to report allegations of sexual abuse of children to the police.

In a statement, Boyle noted that his legislation would close a current “loophole” as it would require “those who are aware of the abuse to report it to law enforcement authorities, rather than simply following an in-house chain of command.” In 2002, graduate assistant Mike McQueary said that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in the showers of the Penn State football facilities. McQueary reported what he had seen to Paterno, who then notified athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz. The two administrators in turn notified university president Graham Spanier, but none reported what had happened to the police.

Curley and Schultz have been charged with lying to the grand jury about what they knew from what McQueary reported to them. McQuery, who has received threats, has been placed on administrative leave by the university. A Penn State janitor also testified that he had witnessed Sandusky sexually abusing a child but, according to the grand jury report, did not report the abuse because he was afraid of losing his job.

Paterno has not been charged with any crimes but it is an understatement to say that his legacy as the “winningest coach” in college football history has been darkened. On Monday, the Big Ten Conference said that it would remove Paterno’s name from its football championship trophy:

“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno’s name on the trophy,” conference Commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial.”

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, a Democrat from Pittsburgh, is also planning to ask Senate leaders to move a bill that he first introduced in 2005. This bill would amend state law so that any professional who works with children must report child abuse to police.

Pennsylvania Must Change Laws About Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

According to an an Associated Press review, 40 states already have such laws about reporting child abuse. Speaking on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican — and the attorney general when the investigation of the sex scandal involving Sandusky began — said “Should the law be changed? Absolutely.”

In July, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia replaced Cardinal Justin Rigali, who has been engulfed by the priest sex abuse scandal, with the Rev. Charles J. Chaput of Denver. In February, the district attorney of Philadelphia had issued a 124-page report which said that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had failed to stop the sexual abuse of children, more than five years after a previous report that documented abuse by more than 50 priests.  Msgr. William Lynn, the secretary of clergy under Rigali’s predecessor, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, had allowed as many as 37 priests to remain in their posts—where they still had access to children—even after charges of abuse had been made public. From 1992 to 2004, Msgr. Lynn had been responsible for investigating abuse allegations, but he has now himself been charged with endangering the welfare of minors.

Given this history, why has it taken so long for Pennsylvania to change its laws about the reporting of child abuse?

Related Care2 Coverage

More Potential Victims of Abuse at Penn State

Penn State Students Riot Over JoePa’s Firing

Philadelphia Archbishop Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Scandal

Priest Scandal Engulfs Philadelphia; Monsignor Among Those Charged





Wanda D. H.
Wanda Hendrix5 years ago

There are a lot of People who should be Charged with a Crime, anyone who knew it was going on.
My God, to see a child getting Raped in a Shower and you don't STOP IT. What is wrong with him.
It was reported over and over again, and anyone from that time on should be facing charges for not doing anything????????

Toby Seiler
Past Member 6 years ago

Richard Wexler makes an important point, that some states have stricter laws and they are not seeing better results. I think it's more of a "class" issue. We have evolved into an oligarchy where the upper class is entitled to do wrong and not be held accountable. It's clearly prevelent in the US DOJustice and has a "trickle down" effect. They are and have exempted themselves from the very laws that every one else must follow.

The laws need changed to hold the leaders of our society not only accountable but LIABLE, and then we will see change in the attitudes of those below them.

Equality in the legal industry, like where "justices" or government officials are exempted from complying with the laws, need changed by constitutional amendment. It's the concept that some are bound by law and that others are not, that is a root cause for these type of abuses.

Apparently it will take referendum because they are cleraly not going to make those changes willinly.

Bruce S.
Bruce S6 years ago

After you sign the initial petiton above, other petitions are then presented for you to sign;


Naomi M.
Naomi Miskimins6 years ago

This whole sex scandal is just disgusting.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 6 years ago

On Jon Stewart last night it was stated that even Sandusky's lawyer is a sleaze who impregnated an 18 year old girl. He didn't even have the brains to hire a lawyer without a creepy past. 'Nuf said!

Kari Knabe
Kari Knabe6 years ago

I can't imagine not reporting abuse whether I'm "required" to or not!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Step up and enforce the laws we have. Report abuse and allegations to the authorities.

Tony C.
Tony C6 years ago

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

Msq Howard
jo Howard6 years ago

We don't need new tougher laws. All we need is to enforce the existing laws we have today!

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan6 years ago

Notice Sandusky's hesitation and his repeating the question when asked if he's sexually attracted to young boys ?Even though said no,that hesitation probably means yes,as Michael Smirkonish suggested to Chris Matthews this afternoon.