UConn revises policy on abuse claims
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The University of Connecticut is drafting a policy that would require all employees to report any allegation of sexual abuse to school officials.
The policy is expected to be presented to the school's Board of Trustees in January, school spokesman Mike Kirk told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The school currently requires deans, directors, department heads and supervisors receiving complaints of possible sexual assault to refer them to the school's Office of Diversity and Equity. Some employees involved in public safety, residential life, student activities, Greek life, athletics, student services and the student union also are required to inform the police of any reported sexual assault, Kirk said.
The new policy would mandate that "all employees (with the exception of those who hold statutory confidentiality within the context of their positions) who receive reports of sexual assault must report that to ODE and/or other appropriate University officials, who would be in a position to ensure victim services and response, as well as to protect the campus community," Kirk said in an email.
The AP had requested information on UConn's policy in the wake of allegations of the sexual abuse of children involving coaches at Penn State, based in State College, Pa., and at Syracuse, in upstate New York. But Kirk said the new policy was in the works before those scandals broke.
At Penn State, a former assistant football coach has been charged with molesting 10 boys, some on campus, and two school officials have been charged with failing to properly report allegations of child sex abuse. At Syracuse, a former assistant basketball coach has been accused of molesting ballboys.
Connecticut has a state law that requires teachers, day care workers, clergy and others to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors to the state Department of Children and Families. But college coaches are not included on the list of mandatory reporters.
UConn's interim athletic director, Paul Pendergast, said last month that he believed no changes in policy would be needed in his department in the wake of the scandals at Penn State and at Syracuse.
"The fact of the matter is we do have a code of conduct here for the players for the coaches in their contracts and so forth," he said last month. "One would hope that these are two situations among the millions that go on across the wider spectrum of education, athletics, you name it. We don't want to react in such a way that would now put measures in place that maybe don't need to be there."
Officials in the Connecticut State University system, which includes Central, Southern, Eastern and Western Connecticut state universities, also are reviewing their policies regarding sexual abuse and children, system spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said.
"All Regents institutions have threat assessment protocols and voluntary reporting procedures in place," she said. "In light of what we learned from Penn State's experience, we are conducting a review of these protocols and procedures in order to ascertain whether they are likely to serve their intended purpose - that is, the protection of children who may be on our campuses for summer camp, field trips or similar purposes."
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