In the wake of the recent child molestation scandal that took place at Penn State University, proponents of nonprofit institutions were left to reluctantly scrutinize the moral priorities of organizations once deemed trustworthy and benevolent. The actions of Jerry Sandusky have forever tarnished the once pristine reputation of nonprofit organizations across the United States and have led many to question their true intentions. Subsequently, Democratic lawmakers have announced that they intend to introduce new legislation to the state of California that will assist in the prevention of further adverse events pertaining to child molestation.
During his reign as one of Penn State’s most prolific defensive coordinators, Sandusky established The Second Mile, a foundation dedicated to helping young children who are burdened with dysfunctional or absent families. The Second Mile challenges young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills.
The Second Mile provided Sandusky with a mechanism in which he could reach out to young children on a consistent basis. However, his devotion to The Second Mile began to border on obsession. Subsequently, it was through the establishment of this organization that he found the victims of his allegedly lewd acts. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly acknowledged that Sandusky used the organization to find his victims, referring to him as a sexual predator.
On November 5, 2011, Sandusky was charged with eight counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and numerous other charges, including aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child. Those made aware of Sandusky’s lewd and salacious acts, including the legendary Joe Paterno, were terminated from their contract with Penn State for their failure to report their findings to the proper authorities.
In response to the atrocities committed by Jerry Sandusky, and the neglect by those aware of his actions to report them, two Democratic lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation to create new rules for coaches and nonprofit organizations that may prevent the reoccurrence of such heinous acts.
One such bill, proposed and authored by Sen. Juan Vargas, would require university coaching staff, including graduate assistants and athletic directors, to report suspected cases of child abuse to law enforcement officials. The language of the bill suggests that a failure to do so would result in increased fines and jail time for the offender. Vargas acknowledged that “telling their superiors was fine, but they should have gone to the police. What they did was wrong and it wasn’t a crime, but it should be.”
Similar to that of Vargas’ bill, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara has also called for legislation targeting nonprofits that enable or fail to report sexual abuse of children connected to their organization. According to Lara’s bill, organizations who fail to report sexual abuse will be stripped of their tax-exempt status.
As the driving force behind the Lara bill, Martha Escutia, a former California legislator, is a prolific proponent of what the proposed legislation symbolizes. Escutia acknowledged that the recent events concerning multiple acts of child molestation allegedly committed by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky should be a “wake up call” for the nation. Subsequently, Escutia has urged Congress to pass laws that would revoke the tax-exempt status of any organization determined by a criminal or civil court of law to have fostered the abuse of children, concealed the abuse of children, or failed to report knowledge of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement authorities.
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