In response to shocking allegations of child abuse by an assistant football coach at Penn State and subsequent cover up, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I Schenectady-Saratoga) and Assemblyman George Amedore (R,C,I-Rotterdam) today announced they will introduce new legislation to address a dangerous loophole in state law and help protect children from abuse: the College Coaches and Professionals Reporting Act.
The bill will add college coaches, athletic directors, professors and administrators to the list of mandated reporters of child abuse. These professionals, many of whom interact with children through youth programs hosted by colleges and universities, are currently not defined as mandated reporters under New York State law.
Failure to report abuse results in a Class A misdemeanor conviction with up to one year in jail.
"The reports of child abuse by Penn State's assistant football coach and seeming indifference and inaction from the school's administration are horrifying. Given that many colleges and universities offer athletic and academic programs to children, we need to make sure that a situation like what occurred at Penn State does not happen in New York," said Tedisco. "The message of this bill is clear: if you're a college coach or college professional and you see or receive a report of child abuse it is your responsibility and obligation to report it to law enforcement immediately. Children and parents need to know that they will be protected and reports of abuse will be investigated and not brushed aside."
“While it is unimaginable that this legislation is necessary, the alleged actions of a deviant sexual predator and those who did little to stop him opens our eyes to how necessary mandatory reporting of child abuse is, especially in immensely powerful organizations. Similar to the actions of the Penn State officials, if you witness child abuse and do not feel compelled to alert authorities you might fail a moral test, but as the law is written in New York State you may not be held accountable legally. There is no doubt that we must expand the child abuse reporting requirement as soon as possible,” said Amedore.
New York State law defines many professions as mandated reporters of child abuse including: K-12 school officials such as teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, principals and administrators, day camp directors, social service workers, doctors, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, EMTs, social workers, psychologists, therapists, police officers and district attorneys.