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Posted: 4:21 p.m. Saturday, June 23, 2012
YORK COUNTY, N.C. —
A case that drew nationwide attention could help bring changes to South Carolina law. Late Friday night a jury convicted Jerry Sandusky, 68,of sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period. One South Carolina lawmaker told Eyewitness News he's been looking into changing the state law that deals with reporting sex abuse, and this case could bolster that effort. Under South Carolina law, professionals like teachers are required to report suspected child abuse, but all South Carolinians are not required to do so. Republican Representative Gary Simrill, who represents York County, could soon propose changing the law. He started considering a change after Louis "Skip" Reville was convicted of sexually abusing 23 boys in the Charleston area. He has also followed the ins and outs of the Jerry Sandusky case. After Friday night's verdict, his heart went out to the victims. "These guys have been damaged for life. You may get through it, but you don't get over it," he said. A jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys. The crimes went on for years, unreported. "As a society we should have intervened on behalf of these children much earlier than we did," said Amanda Wilson of Charlotte's United Family Services. She said in North Carolina, citizens and institutions are required to report suspected child abuse. In South Carolina, only professionals such as doctors, teachers, and clergy are required to do so. Representative Simrill said changing the law to include every citizen might help prevent cases like Sandusky's. As it is now, breaking the law would be a misdemeanor, he said. "If someone says I'm afraid to come forward, then not coming forward is breaking the law," he said. Right now Representative Simrill is researching the matter. Depending on the results of that research, he could propose a change as early as January. Child advocates say even with North Carolina's current law, many people still don't report cases of child abuse. In fact, statistics show that 90 percent of child sex crimes go unreported.
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