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PSU Scandal Brings Sex Abuse Bills to Forefront

The ripple effects of the scandal at Penn State are reaching the State Capitol, and some Pennsylvania lawmakers are calling attention to existing legislation at a time when the national spotlight is on child abuse.

State Senator Larry Farnese, a Philadelphia Democrat, recently proposed a bill that would bar pension payments to state and city employees convicted of sex crimes against children.

Public employees must relinquish their pensions if they're found guilty of some crimes, but child sex abuse is not currently among those offenses.

"Pennsylvania should send the message that if you commit these disgusting, heinous acts against a minor child, that you will not be rewarded by still receiving pension payments from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said Farnese.

The bill has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee since mid-October, but Farnese thinks that voting it onto the Senate floor now would send the right message.

"I believe it is a priority and this is not knee-jerk legislation," said Farnese. "This is not something we introduced arising out of the Penn State situation."

Another Senate Democrat, Wayne Fontana of Allegheny County, is in talks to advance legislation that would strengthen the law requiring school employees to report any suspected physical abuse of a child to law enforcement.

Failure to report suspected abuse under current state law is a misdemeanor charge.