In wake of Penn State scandal, bill would suspend federal funds

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said Monday night that she would soon introduce legislation that would block federal funds to any institution found to have covered up sexual abuse against children, a partial reaction to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that cost Penn State football coach Joe Paterno his job.

"It is not a question of football… it is not a question of what state it is and what great university it is," Jackson Lee said on the House floor. "It is a question of adults and institutions ignoring the pain of these children."

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Jackson Lee said her bill would immediately suspend all federal funding for institutions that have covered up sexual abuse, including the prosecutor's office. She said her bill would not affect scholarships or Pell Grants, and would also include more funding for the Department of Justice to fight sexual abuse against children.

"I intend to introduce this legislation and stop the funding now for any institution that thinks that they are above the law, and will watch a grown man perform a sexual act on a child and refuse to do something about it," she said. "It is an outrage."

At Penn State, alleged sexual abuse against young boys was not reported to authorities for several years after a graduate assistant said he saw former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the university's showers. While this was reported to head coach Joe Paterno, no action was taken, a reaction that led to the decision to fire Paterno last week.



There are also reports that state officials declined to prosecute Sandusky even though there was other evidence that he had sexually abused another boy.


But Jackson Lee said her bill is also a response to a sexual abuse case in Texas in which a woman killed herself today, which she said was due to the belief that state prosecutors would never file charges against her abuser.