As the New York Times is reporting that Penn State University is about to give legendary Head Football Coach Joe Paterno his walking papers for his role in not reporting allegations of sexual abuse, U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA 7) is calling for a federal investigation. Meehan's Seventh Congressional District includes Haverford, Marple, Newtown, Radnor, Upper Providence, Edgmont, and Middletown townships, Media and Conshohocken and parts of Tredyffrin and Easttown townships.
Former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexually molesting young boys who were part of Sandusky's program for under privileged children, held on the Penns State campus. As if the allegations were not disturbing enough, the scandal has quickly spread to others at the university, including Paterno, for failing to report the allegations to police.
Click on the PDF (to the right) to read the 23 count grand jury indictment that has led to the arrest of former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the arrests and resignations of two university officials so far. Please note that the PDF contains graphic descriptions of a sexual nature.
In a press release issued Thursday afternoon, Meehan, a former U.S. Attorney for Southeastern Pennsylvania under President George W. Bush, calls on the Obama Administration to launch an investigation into why the allegations of sexual abuse by former Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky were not immediately reported to law enforcement, instead of University officials.
The statement from Congressman Meehan's office reads:
Today U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan (PA-07) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding the recent allegations of misconduct involving Penn State University. Meehan, a former U.S. Attorney and longtime advocate for safety on college campuses, asked Secretary Duncan to conduct a full investigation into whether federal law was broken in the failure to properly report allegations of sexual abuse.
“These allegations of misconduct are incredibly upsetting and disturbing,” said Meehan. “Aside from the charges against individuals – we need to look at whether a federal law that requires colleges and universities to report crimes on campus was broken. The failure to report the incident in 2002 appears to violate this law and breaks Penn State’s own reporting methods for sexual abuse on campus. Even more upsetting is the fact that had university officials reported this to authorities, additional abuses could have been prevented.”
This is the letter Rep. Meehan sent to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan:
Dear Secretary Duncan,
I share your sentiment that the allegations of misconduct at Pennsylvania State University are heartbreaking. Given the disturbing nature of these allegations, I am writing to respectfully urge you direct the Department of Education to conduct a full investigation into whether federal law was broken in the failure to properly report allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State.
According to grand jury documents made public over the weekend, a graduate student reported to Penn State football coach Joe Paterno that he witnessed assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a minor in the locker room shower in 2002. This report made its way to senior Penn State officials, including Athletic Director Tim Curley, Senior Vice President Gary Schultz, and University President Graham Spanier, though no law enforcement agencies or campus security authorities appear to have been notified. Moreover, in part because the only apparent action taken in response to this allegation was to bar Mr. Sandusky from bringing minor children into the football locker room, serious questions have been raised into the university’s internal response to this matter.
As you know, the Clery Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) requires colleges and universities to prepare, publish and distribute an annual security report in which there is a disclosure of all criminal offenses reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies. University officials are required to report suspected criminal offenses to campus security authorities. Additionally, each institution of higher education is required to develop and distribute a statement of policy regarding the procedures followed once a sex offense has occurred. Clery Act compliance is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Education.
The failure to report the 2002 allegations would appear to break Penn State’s own reporting methods for sexual abuse on campus. According to the publication “Policies, Safety, & U” at Pennsylvania State University, 2011-2012, the University Police are responsible for compiling the annual report required by 20 USC § 1092(f). The report further states that “this document is prepared by information provided by University Police, local law enforcement agencies surrounding main campus and alternate sites such as, Student Affairs, Residence Life, and the Athletics Department. Each entity provides updated statistical information.”
It is clear that while not all employees have to report crimes to the University Police, under the Clery Act, those who would be considered a “campus security authority” would be required to do so. The grand jury report alleges Sandusky engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a total of 8 boys over a span of years that lasted until 2009. Had the 2002 allegations been properly reported, investigated and disclosed, the later instances of abuse could have been prevented and future victims protected.
Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request and your support of a full investigation into possible Clery Act violations at Penn State.
Member of Congress
Penn State has not yet responded to Patch's phone messages and emails.
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