Penn St. Case Offers Reminder To Hoosiers: Failing To Report Child Sex Abuse Is Not An Option

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 7, 2011 Updated Nov 7, 2011 at 5:45 PM EST

INDIANA, (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The head of a Fort Wayne child abuse agency says there's a message for Hoosiers in the Penn State investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by a former football coach at the school.

Long-time Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky now faces 40 criminal counts, on allegations that he molested 8 different boys over 15 years related to his charity for at-risk youth called “The Second Mile”.

The executive director of "SCAN", or Stop Child Abuse and Neglect, says if you fail to report sexual or physical abuse against a child in Indiana, it's not only wrong, you are asking for trouble with the law.

Rachel Tobin-Smith says in Pennsylvania, when an institution is involved, it appears you can report an allegation of sexual abuse against a young boy or girl to your superiors, and they then have the obligation of passing the information on to authorities.

Two Penn State administrators have now resigned and been charged criminally because they were told about Sandusky’s alleged sex crimes but did not pass the information on to police.

Rachel Tobin-Smith says in the Hoosier state, if you witness such abuse, you've got to inform law enforcement or the Indiana Department of Child Services, or risk being charged yourself with a misdemeanor.

She concedes that this kind of crime can be overwhelming for more than just the victim.

Rachel Tobin-Smith/SCAN Executive Director: " There is always a fear factor. What will happen to me? Did I really see that? Who should I talk to? You can call and talk that over and say, this is what I think I saw, what should I do? You can report anonymously."

The Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-800-800-5556.

You can report allegations to the hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and you don’t have to give your name.

Tobin-Smith admits that it can be intimidating filing a sex abuse complaint against someone like Jerry Sandusky, who was revered by so many people in the state of Pennsylvania.

But she says protecting the welfare and safety of children must trump all else in cases like this.




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