This post is the second part of the series about the Penn State sex abuse scandal and college reporting requirements. This blog post will explain how colleges and universities have independent law enforcement officers who have discretion to report to district attorneys.
On many college campuses, the law enforcement officers are police officers who report only to the university authorities, not to outside police departments. When a sex crime occurs on campus, the college police have the discretion to report the crime to the district attorney for criminal charges or to handle the matter internally with disciplinary proceedings within the university.
Common disciplinary sanctions within a university include suspension, termination or fines. Many crimes that would otherwise result in criminal charges, however, do not lead to any criminal consequences because the incidents are handled by college administrators only.
For someone like former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, it appears that the allegations of sex abuse were handled almost exclusively by Penn State administrators, not outside police. In 1998, the allegations were even forwarded along to the District Attorney’s office but they declined to prosecute.
While the controversy will likely continue to plague Penn State, the incident has forced education administrators to review their sex abuse reporting policies to avoid the drama unfolding at Penn State.
Source: New York Times, “On Campus, a Law Enforcement System to Itself,” Nina Bernstein, 11/11/11