In the fallout of the alleged sexual abuse reports at Penn State University, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) announced an inquiry Tuesday into federal laws "designed to protect children from sexual abuse."
Citing directly the charges against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and the reported inaction by university officials that led to the termination of legendary coach Joe Paterno and other administrators, Casey requested a hearing with the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families.
“The tragic events reported from Penn State have been a shock to the nation’s conscience. It is clear we need to examine the federal laws that are designed to protect children from this type of heinous abuse,” Casey said in a statement Tuesday.
“We must strengthen our laws to ensure that any suspected abuse is immediately reported to law enforcement and child protective services—it is an essential action to protect our children and ensure that these criminals are stopped before defenseless children are harmed.”
Since state Attorney General officials indicted Sandusky, shock waves have reverberated throughout the nation. Last week, both Casey and fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) rescinded support for Paterno's Presidential Medal of Freedom nomination.
In that joint statement, Toomey and Casey said: "We hope the proper authorities will move forward with their investigation without delay. Penn State is an important institution in our commonwealth. We should turn our attention to the victims of these atrocious crimes and ensure they get the help they need. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families."
In Casey's Tuesday announcement, he referenced the 40 counts against Sandusky as impetus for federal review on sex abuse reporting. He petitioned ranking subcommittee members Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC) to reevaluate the reporting norms.
"(M)y office has consulted with national and Pennsylvania-based child protection advocates on legislation to require states to improve their mandated reporter laws to ensure that all adults recognize their legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse, which I hope to introduce with child advocates’ support in the days ahead," he wrote.
Specifically, Casey requests a review of the federal law on this matter—the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. Sandusky has denied the charges.
To read Casey's statement and letter, click here.