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Lawmaker: PSU fines should fund abuse agencies

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State House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont.

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Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

An Allegheny County lawmaker wants Penn State and the NCAA to dedicate Penn State's NCAA fines to Pennsylvania agencies that deal with child sex abuse.

State House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, says the fines Penn State must pay for the university's failure to act in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach convicted of sexually abusing boys, could help financially-strapped human service agencies here meet demand for child sexual abuse prevention and treatment programs.

The NCAA has stipulated that Penn State must pay $60 million in fines in $12-million-a-year increments during the next five years into an endowment to be established to fund prevention and treatment programs for sex abuse victims. It hasn't specified where the money will be spent.

“There are programs available in every county of Pennsylvania to help children and adults to deal with the life-changing trauma of sexual abuse, but they desperately need funds,” Dermody said. “These programs have been forced to lay off counselors, cut counseling hours and eliminate in-school prevention programs — all of this at a time when Pennsylvania sexual assault and rape crisis programs are reporting an even greater demand for their services in the aftermath of the Sandusky prosecution.”

Dermody said he is writing to Penn State President Rodney Erickson and university trustees to urge them to keep the money in Pennsylvania.

Officials at Penn State said they're not sure where the money will go. The NCAA sanction specified only that it cannot fund university programs.

“The university is currently working to formulate a plan to create and administer the fund and will provide additional details when they become available,” said university spokesman David LaTorre.

Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Carol Lavery said many Pennsylvania agencies have faced cutbacks and years of flat funding.

“These programs are hurting. The service to victims is significantly different than it was five or six years ago,” Lavery said.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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