DAs Want Penn State Fines To Fund PA Child Centers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Prosecutors in Pennsylvania hope to steer some of the $60 million in fines Penn State must pay the NCAA over the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal to children’s advocacy centers across the state.
The group is not seeking a specific amount of money, but it wants to add to the 21 advocacy centers that now exist across 67 counties, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.
The centers offer a single place for children to tell their stories of abuse to a trained interviewer, while police, therapists and others watch remotely. This prevents children from having to tell their stories repeatedly to various experts. The centers also offer various services or referrals to the victim and family members.
The $60 million fine is part of the NCAA sanctions Penn State is facing in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal involving Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. He was convicted in June of abusing 10 boys, sometimes on Penn State’s campus, from 1994 to 2008.
The advocacy centers have been sprouting up in the past decade or so. Some counties contribute to their center’s operating budget, while others have to raise all of their funds from donors or grants. Centre County does not yet have a center.
“Getting a (center) within a reasonable distance, say within an hour’s drive, or at (every) county seat, would be the most monumental thing the folks up at Penn State could do with this money,” said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, speaking with Williams and other prosecutors at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, the center that serves Philadelphia. The event followed earlier stops Wednesday in State College and Harrisburg.
A school spokesman said Penn State is still contemplating how to use the money, but hopes to help children in a variety of ways.
“Penn State recognizes the fine work done each day by our state’s district attorneys, children advocacy centers and countless organizations that help children. The university is working to formulate a plan to create and administer the fund. It is our hope the fund will produce countless opportunities to help children in need,” spokesman David LaTorre said in a statement.