Illinois Aims to Head off Sex Abuse Scandals like at Penn State

June 27, 2012

The state of Illinois on Wednesday added sports coaches and university employees to the list of people required to report suspected child sexual abuse, a move aimed at stopping cases like the one that involved convicted former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"Young people place their trust in coaches and university officials, and it is their responsibility to report any suspected abuse," Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement announcing that he signed legislation passed unanimously by the state's General Assembly.

All U.S. states have laws mandating who is required to report child abuse or maltreatment.

In Illinois, the list already included social workers, teachers and other school employees, doctors and healthcare workers, members of the clergy, police, mental health professionals, child care providers, foster parents, funeral home directors and commercial film processors.

Sandusky was convicted in a closely watched trial by a jury in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania last Friday on 45 child sex abuse charges linked to the sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period, sometimes at Penn State facilities.

Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury and failing to alert authorities to one act of sexual abuse by Sandusky. Penn State President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno were fired by the university after the scandal broke. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

The Illinois legislation was introduced after the Sandusky case surfaced.

"It was clear following the events that unfolded at Penn State that we needed to tighten up our reporting laws in Illinois to make sure nothing like that could happen here," said Republican state Representative Dwight Kay, a sponsor of the bill.

"The last thing anyone would have wanted to see would be for abuses to go unreported because of a loophole in the law," Kay said.

"Our colleges and universities should be places of safety for our young people, and this law ensures that these new 'mandatory reporters' do the right thing when they suspect abuse," added Republican state Senator Kyle McCarter, a co-sponsor.








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