Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Three More Former Penn State Officials to Stand Trial for Sandusky Sex Abuse Scandal

USA Today reports that three more former officials, including the former University president, will stand trial for criminal charges related to their cover up of the Sandusky child sexual abuse allegations. (See story here).  The criminal charges against them include perjury, conspiracy and failure to report child abuse.  The factual allegations are that they failed to report suspected child abuse after a former assistant football coach reported having seen Sandusky sexually abusing a child in the showers of the Penn State locker room.

Almost every state has statutes which require the mandatory reporting of any suspected child abuse by officials such as school administrators.  In California, this is mandated by several statutes including but not limited to California Penal Code sections 11164 through 11174.  This provides for mandatory reporting of any suspected child abuse or neglect and mandatory investigation of any such reports by law enforcement officials.

It is shameful that the "cover up" scenario is all too common in cases of alleged sexual assault of minors in institutions such as schools, churches and community organizations.  As demonstrated by the Sandusky case above, failing to report and investigate claims promptly and going further by attempting to destroy or conceal evidence of abuse can and should lead to criminal charges against those responsible.  This can also lead to claims for civil liability against the institutions who employ persons (especially with a supervisory or managerial role in the organization).  Civil claims can include claims for punitive damages meant to punish the organization in addition to simply compensating the victim.  California Civil Code 3294 imposes liability for punitive damages against corporate employers for these types of acts and / or omissions if the responsible persons are "officers, directors or managing agents" or if an "officer, director, or managing agent" knows about the conduct and approves  the wrongful acts after the fact.  "Approval" can be shown by these types of "cover up" activities including attempts to conceal information or failing to fully cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of alleged sex crimes.

For assistance with any claims of child sexual abuse or neglect in California, please visit our webpage here: