Last week, a spokesperson for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan confirmed that the agency is looking into whether federal laws were violated when Penn State officials failed to act on allegations of the sexual abuse of a child in 2002.
That review came at the behest of Patrick Meehan, a Republican representative to the House whose district includes State College. Now, a senator from the state is seeking the involvement of his contemporaries as well.
In a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania (pictured) called for Senate hearings into how federal laws may or may not apply to the child-sex abuse scandal, and what can be done at the federal level to prevent something similar from happening in the future.
“The serious nature of these allegations and the evidence on the public record of failure to report by individuals at Penn State warrants an immediate review of the relationship between federal and state reporting requirements on child abuse and neglect under (the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act),” Casey said. “Additionally, the hearing should explore the need to support educational and training requirements for people who come into contact with children to recognize abuse and neglect.”
MSNBC.com notes that Pennsylvania is not one of the 18 states that require all adults to report suspected child abuse. In the Democratic Senator’s letter, directed to committee chair Barbara Mikulski and ranking committee member Richard Burr, Casey wrote that he was hoping legislation will be drafted that will “ensure that all adults recognize their legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse.” Casey added that he hopes the legislation “will be introduced in the days ahead.”
Additionally, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce may conduct its own investigation into the scandal at Penn State once Duncan’s department concludes its probe into the matter.
“The committee is monitoring the situation at Penn State carefully and will assess the need for Congressional action after the Department of Education concludes its investigation into the matter,” spokeswoman Alexandra Sollberger told the Patriot-News.
The state of Pennsylvania conducted an investigation into allegations that former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused at least eight boys over a 15-year period that began in 1994, and the grand jury returned a 40-count indictment against the alleged pedophile earlier this month. Investigations at the state and federal level are ongoing, and as many as a dozen more alleged victims have come forward in the past 10 days.