Amidst allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused eight young boys, a Senate committee plans to hear whether stronger laws are needed to protect children from abuse and neglect.
The hearing is set for Dec. 13, as lawmakers from both parties lend their support to a legislation requiring anyone witnessing child abuse report it to law enforcement or a child protection agency.
The December hearing was announced by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Children and Families, and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). The hearing will focus on how well existing federal law protects children from abuse and suspected abuse. Lawmakers will also look at proposals to improve reporting requirements.
No child should ever be subjected to sexual abuse, Mikulski said in a press release reviewed by the media. And no adult should ever turn a blind eye to such abuse. As a former social worker in Baltimore, I have seen first-hand how child abuse can destroy a family and ruin a child's life.
Sandusky, 67, has been charged with 40 counts sexually abusing the eight boys over a period of nearly15 years. Both Sandusky and his attorney have said he is innocent of these charges.
A grand jury report noted that in 2002, Mike McQueary, a former assistant football coach, allegedly saw Sandusky raping a young boy in an on-campus shower but didn't report it to the police. Since then, McQueary has been criticized for not alerting the police about what he saw.
But McQueary has said he did more than run away from the incident.
Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call received an email in which McQueary stated that he did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police following what he saw that day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Since the Penn State sex scandal has been revealed, a number of bills have been introduced in the Senate in an effort to protect children.
These bills include the Child Abuse Reporting Enforcement, or CARE, Act by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), requiring states to mandate the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement and child protective services in order to get federal social services funding. Under this legislation, there would be a penalty of at least a year in prison for anyone failing to report abuse.
On Monday, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) introduced the Speak Out to Stop Child Abuse Act.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh also announced Monday that an independent investigation will be launched into the Penn State Scandal. That investigation will be one of unlimited authority to investigate anyone and anything, the Los Angeles Times reported.
No one is above scrutiny, university trustee Kenneth Frazier said during Monday's announcement, noting that Freeh will be able to investigate employees up to and including the board of trustees.
The results of the investigation would be made public, the New York Daily News reported.
Freeh was head of the FBI from 1993 to 2001 before forming Group International Europe, a private investigation firm.
Penn State's Board of Trustees recently fired Paterno. University President Graham Spanier also resigned.