Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Scandal Tentacles Spreading

The PSU child-sex scandal is starting to spread in more than predictable ways. Expect it to do so for a long, long time.

Scandal Tentacles Spreading

Apart from the predictable immediate reactions to the Penn State child-sex scandal, i.e. expressions of horror, calls for firings and resignations, spreading questions of who knew what when, we're now seeing second rings of ripples with likely long-term effects.

In the ongoing aftermath of the state presentment of alleged abuse of eight children at PSU by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky there are other purported victims emerging, both Penn State-related and not.

While there are reports of other alleged Penn State victims, a veteran assistant basketball coach at Syracuse is accused of abusing two former ball-boys in the 1980s and 1990s. The coach has been placed on leave.

Meanwhile, state laws protecting Penn State (as well as Lincoln, Temple and Pitt) from compliance with open-records requirements are under review. These "state-related" schools were specifically exempted from a 2008 open-records law on grounds they are only partly funded with state tax dollars. Appartently that now could change, thanks to the scandal.

And former U.S. congressman Pat Murphy, running for state attorney general, is proposing investment in a statewide database and better interaction among law enforcement agencies.  Murphy's trying to become the first Democrat elected AG in Pennsylvania (the office became elective in 1980).

Many are calling for wiping out statutes of limitation in child-abuse cases. Insurers suggest this would dramatically drive up insurance costs to any group involved with kids, including non-profit clubs and charities.

The legislature wants to form a special commission to review all child-protection laws and laws related to reporting suspected abuse. Since the topic is so hot, this clearly will divert attention from issues such as funding bridge and highway repair, school vouchers, selling off the State Stores, etc.

Expect, too, to see Penn State-related stories about alleged past cover-ups in areas other than child abuse -- and similar storie from other schools or major institutions.

Point is, there are plenty of twists and turns coming in just the PSU affair. That fact, and these spreading related stories and issues, will demand press and public attention for a long, long time to come.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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