California bills advance in response to Jerry Sandusky case
As the sexual abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky winds toward a verdict in Pennsylvania, California lawmakers this week moved forward two bills in reaction to the case.
A former assistant football coach at Penn State, Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, including one instance in which a witness said he saw Sandusky abuse a boy in a Penn State locker room shower.
The Senate Public Safety Committee this week approved a measure by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) requiring that all athletic coaches, administrators and directors be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.
“As a former high school and collegiate athlete myself, I know firsthand the position of trust that coaches have with their athletes,” Dickson said after AB 1435 advanced. "This close relationship and bond should never be exploited to hurt a child and we need to do all we can to prevent it."
The committee also approved AB 1434, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles). The bill requires employees of higher education institutions who interact with children on a regular basis to be mandated reporters.
"Each year, thousands of minor children spend time on California college campuses, for activities ranging from soccer tournaments to academic programs to school tours," Feuer said. "We owe it to these kids to ensure that suspicions of child abuse are detected and reported. As we saw at Penn State, there are times when moral obligation alone isn't enough.”
Both bills have been approved by the Assembly but still require adoption by the full Senate.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and his wife Dottie leave the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., on Friday. Credit: Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times