Lawmakers aim to close ‘Penn State Loophole’

Legislation would mandate college staff to report child abuse

— The bill would add a number of college and instructional titles to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse, including college coaches, athletic directors, professors, graduate assistants, college administrators and college presidents. Also, paid staff members of children’s camps, summer day camps and travel camps would be added to the list.

Failure to report an incident of child abuse is a Class A misdemeanor crime, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Sen. Maziarz said the legislation creates “another line of defense against attempts to ignore or cover up” allegations of child abuse.

Sen. Farley echoed Maziarz’s support of the bill.

“This legislation is necessary to help ensure that people do the right thing and take the necessary step to protect children from predators,” Farley said in a statement.

Karl Luntta, spokesman for the University at Albany, said there are already protocols on the SUNY campus for reporting such alleged crimes.

“We haven’t had time to review it, so I can’t comment directly on the bill,” said Luntta on Thursday, Nov. 17. “We do have protocols in place for reporting sexual assault. The university is committed to maintaining an environment here that supports our educational mission. … We do not tolerate sexual assault.”

He said there is a sexual assault prevention program on campus and there are “a couple avenues” for reporting sexual assault crimes.

Also, Luntta pointed to the Clery Act, which is a federal law passed in 1998, requiring the reporting of certain crimes occurring on a college campus.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act affects all colleges and universities receiving federal assistance and mandates the college community must be notified when certain crimes are reported to college officials or campus police. Coaches are considered to be college officials under the law.

“This law requires that sports and the athletics program that certain crimes, including sexual assault, when witnessed by a member of the athletics program, by law must be reported directly to police.”

At UAlbany, campus security is handled by sworn police officers, so reporting crimes to campus police would count as reporting directly to police.

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