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Congressman Calls For Federal Investigation Into Penn State Scandal

Nov 8, 2011
Originally published on November 9, 2011 8:32 am

Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania, called on the Department of Education to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State.

"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," said Meehan in a statement. "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."

As Mark has reported, over the weekend, authorities alleged that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky "sexually abused young boys and that university officials, including legendary coach Joe Paterno, had been warned years ago about what was supposedly happening and never informed police."

Meehan sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Here's a bit from that letter, which explains which law Meehan believes might have been broken:

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.

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