The child sex-abuse case at Penn State University is quickly becoming one of the most horrible stories ever associated with NCAA athletics. In an era when most college football program shake-ups involve giving cars away, selling memorabilia, or setting a student up with a professional sports agent, this case is much different. A former Penn State coach has been charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse. Two university officials are also charged with perjury and failure to report the abuse to authorities, apparently to save Penn State and its football team from embarrassment.
As it sits today, university president Graham Spanier and head coach Joe Paterno – the “winningest” football coach in Division I history – have been fired by the university’s board of trustees. The Penn State campus is in turmoil, with demands for inquiry and justice for victims – as well as aggressive student protests over the ill-fitting end to Paterno’s otherwise spotless career.
Former Coach Accused of Child Abuse
Allegations in the case against Jerry Sandusky, a former coach and one-time heir apparent to Paterno, involve a 2002 incident in which Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the time, reported seeing Sandusky in the showers with a young boy. Paterno then informed his athletic director, Tim Curley, and a university vice president, Gary Shultz. While Paterno is not facing any criminal charges for failure to act, the iconic coach has been fired from his job of 46 years for not doing nearly enough to follow up on his reporting of the alleged abuse.
Certain states have laws regarding reporting child abuse. For example, Florida Statute 39.201 requires mandatory reports of child abuse, abandonment and neglect.
So far, the unfolding story centers on fallout at the university. The unknown number of victims and their stories still remain in the background, with individuals only now starting to come forward. Yet, there is a pertinent question: What are the rights of the child abuse victims?
- Child abuse victims may be entitled to damages. Sexual abuse will have a profound, life-long effect on the child and the family as a whole. Professional help will be necessary, but can produce financial hardship. Psychiatric and medical treatment or hospitalizations can become expensive. There may be damages for mental trauma and pain and suffering as well.
- Protections for child abuse victims. There are rules set forth to protect children’s names from becoming public record, to keep them from having to testify in an open court, to allow parents to attend all interviews with their children, and to keep records sealed.
- Loss of filial consortium. In some cases, parents of victims may be able to make claims for loss of love, affection, and companionship.
If Your Child Has Been Abused
If your child has been abused, contact an experienced Florida child abuse attorney. Do not attempt to handle the situation yourself and do not rely on an organization to handle it either. As we can see from the allegations in the Penn State case, people in a position to do something may not keep a victim’s best interests in mind.
An experienced Sarasota child abuse attorney will ensure that your child and your family are directed toward qualified therapists and medical professionals who are skilled in the area of child abuse. They will help you understand your child’s rights under the law, work with prosecutors to gather evidence, and guide you through the claims process. If you have questions about your child’s rights as a victim of abuse, contact Mallard Law Firm at (888) 409-3805.