Jerry Sandusky bill proposed in General Assembly

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Now that January is here, we're less than two weeks away from the General Assembly coming back into session here in Richmond.

Already there's one bill that is catching many people's attention. The alleged child sexual abuse by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is inspiring a bill here in Virginia.

Two bills proposed would legally require athletic coaches to report any suspected child abuse to Social Services.

The outrage over child abuse accusations at Penn State were aimed not only at Sandusky. They were also aimed at other coaches and university leaders that are believed to have known about the abuse, but failed to report it.

Northern Virginia Republican Bob Marshall wants to legally require coaches and athletic directors to report suspected and known abuse.

"There was no requirement to do anything," Marshall said. "Common sense tells you to do it but I guess that isn't sufficient to report this to the authorities."

These related bills would apply to both public schools and universities as well as private organizations.

Marshall says many children respect the authority of coaches. He says they shouldn't be solely responsible for telling someone they're being abused.

"Kids can get confused easily along these lines," he said. "We need adults to have an obligation if they're in these circumstances to report this abuse to the proper authorities."

Right now Virginia law does not require someone to come forward if they suspect abuse. NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin says there are some risks though with legislation like this.

"The biggest concern is the extent to which this could cause massive false accusations by people, quite frankly, are not trained in detecting actual instances of child abuse," Benjamin said.

Marshall says his bills would not prevent abuse altogether, but he hopes it could prevent further abuse and spare other children.

The General Assembly will be back in session on the 11th.

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