Missouri Attonery General pushes for tougher reporting law after Penn State cover up

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In the wake of the explosive child molestation cover-up scandal at Penn State University, Missouri’s attorney general is encouraging the legislature to adopt new laws that would punish adults who fail to immediately report known or suspected child molestation.

Like many other states, Missouri already has laws that require certain professions, like teachers, physicians and clergy, to report child sexual abuse, but Koster argues that legal responsibility should be expanded.
“The recent incidents at Penn State highlight the disparities across the country in the manner in which state laws handle reporting sexual abuse of children,” Koster said.

Koster said the legislature should consider adding Missouri to a list of 18 states that currently require that all individuals report suspected abuse or neglect of children to proper authorities.

Earlier this year in Missouri, lawmakers approved the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which among other things requires public school employees to report suspected or known abuse within 24 hours. That same bill also requires school officials to disclose abuse to any other school districts they may consider hiring an employee with past abuse allegations or convictions.

The attorney general’s statement comes little more than a week after a Pennsylvania grand jury indicted former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky with 40 counts of alleged child sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct with multiple underage victims.

The scandal has also led to the indictment of two other school officials for perjury and obstruction of justice related to the case, and the highly publicized dismissal of veteran head football coach Joe Paterno after 46 seasons.