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(Updates with Corbett comment starting in fourth paragraph.)
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Pennsylvania Legislature is likely to pass a child sex-abuse reporting law by the end of the year in reaction to the Penn State University scandal, Governor Tom Corbett said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Corbett is a member of the Penn State board of trustees that on Nov. 9 fired football coach Joe Paterno, 84, after a career spanning 61 years and a record 409 wins, amid criticism he didn’t do enough to stop the alleged abuse by a former assistant coach.
Board members fired Paterno and school President Graham B. Spanier “because they lost confidence in their ability to lead,” Corbett said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Focusing on Paterno, Corbett said the state attorney general “made a determination that he had not at this point in time done anything that would be of a criminal nature. But in my opinion, when you don’t follow through, when you don’t continue on to make sure that actions are taken, then I lose confidence in your ability to lead. That would be the case here.”
Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67, was charged Nov. 5 with the sexual assault of eight boys from 1994 to 2009.
“If I’m to speculate, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had more victims come forward,” Corbett said on Fox.
Corbett said on NBC that while assistant coach Mike McQueary, who allegedly witnessed an incident of abuse by Sandusky in 2002 at the school’s athletic facilities, and Paterno, to whom McQueary reported it, haven’t been charged with wrongdoing, everyone involved had “a moral obligation” to do more than was done to stop the former assistant coach.
“Should the law be changed? Absolutely,” Corbett, who was Pennsylvania’s attorney general before being elected governor, said on NBC.
Two former Penn State officials have been charged with perjury and failure to report child abuse in the case. They are Timothy Curley, 57, the former director of athletics, and Gary Schultz, 62, the former senior vice president of finance and business who had oversight for the university police department.
Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law “provides that when a staff member reports abuse, pursuant to statute, the person in charge of the school or institution has the responsibility and legal obligation to report or cause such a report to be made by telephone and in writing within 48 hours to the Department of Public Welfare,” according to the findings of fact by the grand jury in the Sandusky case.
“One of the lessons that we need to learn from this is that when people see something like this, or hear something like this, we need to investigate right away,” said Corbett, 62, a Republican elected governor last year.
“We have lost focus on what’s in the best interests of the child,” he said on NBC.
Asked on Fox how he could explain what happened at Penn State, Corbett said, “What I saw was a failure to act. And I’ve always have said, your actions speak louder than your words.”
The university’s Nittany Lions lost a home game in State College, Pennsylvania, yesterday against the University of Nebraska, 17-14, in their first game since Paterno was fired.
Moody’s Investors Service has put Penn State’s Aa1 rating of about $1 billion in bonds on review while it considers the risks to its reputation and finances risk arising from the situation.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Ann Hughey.
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