DAs: Penn State penalty money should go to child victims
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HARRISBURG -- District attorneys from across the state are urging that the $60 million endowment resulting from the NCAA sanctions against Penn State University be used in part to fund resource centers for victims of child abuse.
The county law-enforcement officials offered their recommendation during a media tour on Wednesday in State College, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania has 21 "child advocacy centers," which help investigators coordinate their efforts in a way that lessens the number of times a child must recount what happened to them and offers various advocacy and support resources.
There currently is no dedicated funding for such abuse resource centers, which are created and paid for on a county-by-county basis, Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said.
Allegheny County has two child advocacy centers: A Child's Place at Mercy through Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and a location at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Other Western Pennsylvania locations include one in Washington, Pa., another in New Castle, and two in Erie.
Mr. Marsico, who was joined by district attorneys from Montgomery, Centre, Tioga and Philadelphia counties and officials from several child advocacy centers, said they would like to see the sanction dollars stay in Pennsylvania, given that the victims are from the commonwealth and also because of the need here for financial resources.
"Even in cases where we can't prosecute for a certain reason, the kid gets help at a child advocacy center," Mr. Marsico said. "The kid will get the medical exam, will also get counseling and other services that the child might need. So we have that ability to help these kids in addition to the investigation and prosecution."
The NCAA consent agreement states that at least $12 million must be paid annually during the next five years into an account for programs preventing child abuse or assisting victims.
Allocating those dollars will be up to Penn State officials, who said in a statement on Wednesday that they are "working to formulate a plan to create and administer the fund."
"It is our hope the fund will produce countless opportunities to help children in need," the statement read. "We appreciate this valuable input and will provide additional details when they become available."
First Published August 9, 2012 12:00 am