You could call it California’s Paterno law.
“The close relationship that coaches have with their athletes should never be exploited to hurt a child,” says Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento.
It’s a loophole in California law that Dickinson wants closed.
“The lack of reporting in these occurrences by grown adults to the proper legal authorities to the police is dismaying and simply unacceptable. This has to stop,” said Dickinson.
Inspired by failures to report child molestation to police at both Penn State and Syracuse, the law would require coaches, athletic directors and sports administrators to become mandatory reporters to police if they hear about child abuse. In addition to that stipulation, the proposed law would require training for people that work with young athletes to identify abuse.
“In my career, I can't think of a single case of any type of child abuse in which someone didn't suspect, in which someone didn't come forward and say, ‘Well, I heard crying,’” said Sheila Boxley from the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
As fuel for his legislative fire, Dickinson cited the statistic that up to 88 percent of child molestation cases go unreported and sought backup from former WNBA player and current women’s basketball coach Ruthie Bolton.
“In many cases, these kids are afraid to speak out. So, we need to be their voices. We need to be their ears. We need to be there to protect these kids,” Bolton said.
The bill will be taken to the Assembly when they go back in session on Jan. 4.