Ebbin Introduces ‘Coaches Bill’ in Response to Penn State Abuse

by ARLnow.com January 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm 2,792 46 Comments

In one of his first acts as a state Senator, Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has introduced legislation that would require athletic coaches and directors at public and private schools and universities to report incidents of child abuse.

Ebbin’s bill is SB 265 — an amendment to an existing Virginia law that requires “any teacher or other person employed in a public or private school, kindergarten or nursery school” to report any suspected incident of child abuse or neglect within 72 hours, or face fines. SB 265 would amend the law to apply to “any teacher, athletic coach or director, or other person employed in a public or private school, kindergarten or nursery school, or institution of higher education.”

The bill’s introduction comes just two months after the Penn State sex abuse scandal rocked the world of college athletics.

“Senator Ebbin is very concerned about the abuses at Penn State and felt that we needed to ensure that nothing like that ever happened in Virginia,” Ebbin spokesman Donald Moss told ARLnow.com. “The bill will require that reporting of suspected child abuse be mandatory both by those in athletics and anyone employed by an institute of higher learning, which is change to current Virginia code that everyone will agree is all the more necessary in a post Penn State world.”

SB 265 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, which is scheduled to meet on Friday morning.

  • GT

    Redundant language is redundant.

  • E

    Oh Sandusky damn

  • novasteve

    Sandusky hasn’t even been found guilty of anything.

    There was another accusation at Syracuse where it turned out the accuser was lying. Why not wait before you pass kneejerk laws?

    • brif

      SB 265 simply modifies existing law, hardly a knee jerk reaction and completely seperate from guilt/innocence.

    • drax

      Ebbin’s idea is just as good even if Sandusky isn’t guilty, steve.

  • truth be told

    Seems like a good way for a freshman to get his name circulated.

    • OX4

      The beauty of it is, no politician in their right mind would ever vote *against* this, even though it’s an unnecessary addition. Now Ebbin can say he did his part to prevent child abuse in Virginia, even though he did absolutely nothing.

      This guy is gonna go far in VA politics!

      • drax

        No, he didn’t do “absolutely nothing.”

  • TGEoA

    Why limit it to teachers? Add Catholic priests as well.

    • R. Griffon


      Although the Catholic church has threatened to punish (incl. excommunication) anyone who reports child abuse to authorities. (Just one) Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/24/children.childprotection

      Better yet, why don’t we just make this legislation apply to EVERYONE?

      • over this

        I’m tired of the harsh judgment following one group on this sort of thing, I understand that it’s easy to site sources and say this is the entire church or whatever people want, but acting like the Catholic church is the only place where sick adults hide out (or that everyone who is there is sick themselves) is just getting old. Church leaders, coaches, teachers, boys scout leaders, of all faiths, sizes, and colors are PRIME “jobs” for people that are sick because it gets them close and hands on in the community.

        I worked at a Catholic school and we were not only trained (over 15 years ago, so this is too little too late to just now include others in on some of this) to go to authorities if we suspected anything, but we never had any kind of scandal in our church. We were very alert and very aware of our church leaders and our educators who interacted with kids. We didn’t have alter boys or students in any way harassed or harmed. Everyone needs to back off one church, even if they’re just kidding around. Sick people are everywhere (like locker rooms and sports camps apparently) and it’s more important to single them out and get them out of these jobs than to harp on a community or faith because you don’t agree with them.

        • R. Griffon

          You’ve either missed the point entirely, or you’re actively avoiding the real issue. People don’t judge the Catholic church simply because a few pedophiles have infiltrated their ranks (maybe some do, but the vast majority do not). They judge them because time and again they’ve proven that they have an INSTITUTIONAL POLICY to shelter and protect those pedophiles. This isn’t just a case of one bad church not reporting it to police, this is a story about how Catholic leadership – all the way up to and including the Pope have sought to systematically sweep child abuse under the rug in hopes that nobody will notice.

          They are actively seeking to obstruct justice, and each and every one of them belong in jail. Including, and perhaps even ESPECIALLY the Pope.

          I’m glad that you never saw such a thing at your church, but if you consider yourself a moral and responsible person, you should disassociate yourself completely. They are evil and corrupt, and their conduct casts a shadow over everything you do in association with the church. Heck, even stalwart Catholic countries like Ireland have disassociated themselves (Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/04/us-vatican-ireland-idUSTRE7A33D120111104). This is not about a few disparaging remarks on a web forum. This is about seeing justice done.

  • Burger

    Seems very over broad. To me it reads that some Dad that coaches little league is now on the hook to report incidents, whatever that means, even though he might spend a grand total of 2 hours a week with a kid. not only does that Dad have to report said contact but it opens a large can of worms of civil liability.

    • drax

      I can’t think of any reason why every single adult shouldn’t be added to this law and required to report suspected child abuse, can you?

      • Burger

        Then you are not thinking very hard where these type of law can lead.

        • Sensible

          Let me guess . . . if a *republican* had proposed a similar law-and-order-type piece of legislation, you would not object. It’s only when a gay, liberal lawmaker proposes such a thing, that you feel we’re going down a slippery slope.

          • Burger

            Actually, I am very pro-civil rights. I see no reason why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to form civil unions – I don’t think the state should be involved in determining a religious ceremony.

            I am very libertarian except when it comes to drugs.

        • drax

          So you tell me, Burger. Where could it lead? Does this mean you want to repeal it, rather than strengthening it?

          • Burger

            You want the law to cover everyone – the onus is on you to tell us why society has now made everyone accountable to everyone else for their actions.

            You statement merely opens the door for aggressive attorneys to expand their fishing expeditions until they find the deep pocket to compensate their client.

    • brif

      How could you possibly come to that interpretation?

      A BILL to amend and reenact § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia, relating to requirement that certain injuries to children be reported by public and private school and college athletic coaches and directors.

    • R. Griffon

      I think the only thing over broad is your interpretation. First of all this only applies school employees (and therefore not little league dads), and secondly you’d have to be able to PROVE in a court of law that they knew abuse was occurring. This could be proven in the Penn State case – I’m not sure how you could do so w/ a little league coach even if it DID apply to them, but if you could prove it, then why not hold them responsible?

      • Burger

        It was PROVEN in a court of law in the Penn State case. I beg to differ. The only thing that has happened is there was a grand jury which is entirely the prosecutions case and has a very lenient standard to move forward.

        Sandusky was indicted with numerous charges not found guilty unless you mean in the court of public opinion.

        I am not defending him just pointing out facts.

        Thus, I am pretty sure my interpretation is the more accurate one.

        • R. Griffon

          Nobody ever said that anything was proven at PSU, so I’m not really sure what you’re arguing.

          I did say, however, that someone would have have to PROVE (at least to a court’s satisfaction) that someone had reasonable knowledge of such a thing and therefore an obligation to report it as I *thought* that might be an issue to you as well. But I was assuming there.

          You still haven’t shown how this would apply to little league dads, and that your interpretation is thus correct.

          • Burger

            Athletic coaches – so you are conceding baseball is not athletics because it makes no such connection.

            The language as written is extremely broad. And take a look at Sandusky? What if he is not found guilty? what if all those kids are lying – not likely, but it isn’t the first time kids have been coached to report bad behavior See the McMartin preschool case from 1990.

            I am just not ready to put everyone on trial or make them do things that are really beyond them. But, I guess you are more interested in forming some type of secret police so neighbors are spying on neighbors.

    • JimPB

      What civil liability?

      • Burger

        I don’t know let me know when JoePa gets sued for not reporting because there is no doubt, he, PSU, the BoT and others will be sued in civil court for civil damages.

        The civil liability case brought by the kid against the little league Dad if he never sees anything and doesn’t report it. Many provisions of the code have a criminal liability portion but also allow a victim to sue in civil court.

        Much like OJ Simpson being found not guilty of killing Nicole Brown but had a civil judgment found against him for killing Nicole Brown. Different set of standards and different levels of proof needed to find for one party or the other.

    • so…

      Can I ask why this shouldn’t apply to little leaque dads? I don’t think it reads that way to me, as they’re often volunteer and not a county or school employee, BUT they have to sign the same papers that many county employees do that interact with kids. It doesn’t say they should make up false charges it says if they suspect an “incident of child abuse or neglect”. Let’s say I’m a divorced or separated parent and my kid was at my ex’s the night before practice and he came in the next day with a black eye or a broken wrist and had a sketchy story about “tripping up the stairs”. Sure, it’d be a HUGE hassle if there was nothing behind that and I might seem annoyed at first (because we all know our time is so precious) but say my ex has a mean temper and the coach has noticed at games and the like and the kids story seems uncomfortable or sketchy… report it. I know I know, then everyone will say anyone can report anything, but at least I’d know that someone cares enough about my kid… and maybe it’s not abuse but maybe he got into a fight at school or there’s a bully or he’s sneaking out at night getting into trouble… at least we’d get to the bottom of it.

      I know it’s not other people’s jobs to raise each others’ kids, but what’s so wrong with implying that when our gut tells us there’s something wrong to go to those that are supposedly in a position to help? It’s better than turning and blind eye because you’re not sure and then next week at practice my kid doesn’t come in at all cause he’s in the hospital from his dad beating the crap out of him… ?

      • Burger

        There is nothing in the world stopping someone from doing exactly what you said…but there is a vast difference forcing the person to do something and voluntarily doing something.

  • R. Griffon

    > … which is change to current Virginia code that everyone will agree is all the more necessary

    No, it actually isn’t. It may change the wording of the code, but it doesn’t change the impact or ramifications of it one single iota. The current code covers ALL school employees. That means coaches every bit as much as teachers, administrators, and janitors for that matter.

    He’s not helping the cause. He’s grandstanding in order to try to create the APPEARANCE that he really cares about the problem.

    • brif

      yes, actually it is necessary. The existing code does not cover colleges/institutions of higher learning.

      • R. Griffon

        It already says “in a public or private school.” Are you asserting that such institutions aren’t schools? B/c the university I attended had a SCHOOL of Engineering, a SCHOOL of Business, a SCHOOL of Medicine, a SCHOOL of Law…

        • brif

          Yes, i am asserting that for the purposes of Virginia code, the phrase public or private school doesn’t necessarily cover institutions of higher learning.

          • R. Griffon

            Webster doesn’t seem to think so: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/school

            Does VA get to make up their own narrow definitions for words outside of common usage?

          • drax

            Yes, Virginia – like any other lawmaking institution – can make up the meanings of words it uses in its laws. It defines them, legally, and then uses them. Look up any part of the code and it will usually start with the definitions of the terms it uses.

          • R. Griffon

            Then fair enough. If that’s the case then I’ll concede that the higher education edit may have been necessary.

            But my real question is: why limit it to schools? Why not ALL state employees, regardless of type? And in fact, why not all PEOPLE?

          • Smuckers

            I bet you have not read the Definitions section for this article of the law.

          • Burger

            To answer question – why not have laws that state you should give a dollar to every panhandler. Should there be a law that says you should go to church. I am pretty hesitant to start enforcing social morals through the civil code and especially hesitant to make these laws strict liability which many of them are.

            Believe me, I understand what Sandusky allegedly did is reprehensible and if true he should be thrown down the deepest hole let the miscreants of the world have their way with him.

            But, drafting laws stating that people outside the normal enforcement route that have a likely lower understanding and appreciation of abuse are now liable for reporting is not the way to go.

            Take Sandusky – the laws on the book said you should report the incidents – did that help?

          • drax

            P.S. An example of how the law, not a dictionary, defines terms it uses:


          • Lou

            Those definitions don’t seem to answer the questions about this bill though. What does this bill define “school” as? I don’t think it is defined.

          • drax

            That’s fine – just pointing out that dictionaries don’t help.

  • Ty

    i’m gonna wait and follow the trial, too early to tell if sandusky is guilty.

    • R. Griffon

      Fair enough re: Sandusky, but totally irrelevant re: one’s moral (and what SHOULD be a legal) obligation to report suspected abuse. You cannot, by definition, wait until someone is found guilty before reporting that you think they may be guilty of something.

    • Huh?

      Nine different kids say he molested them, he admits to showering alone with boys, and you think there’s a chance he could be innocent? Really?

      • Burger

        There are 4 accusers in the Syracuse case…now wait, there is now 3. One lied.

      • Ty

        If conspiring by all the grown up kids did indeed transpire, then it’s a witch hunt and ruthless. Phone records will prove so. I want as much to come out of this as possible.


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