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Sen. calls for federal hearing in Penn St. case

By Genaro C. Armas

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 15 2011 2:25 p.m. MST

In this photo provided by NBC, NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, talks with Bob Costas about Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky during NBC News' "Rock Center With Brian Williams" Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Sandusky, a former Penn State football assistant coach charged with sexually abusing eight boys in a scandal that has rocked the university, said that there was no abuse and that any activities in a campus shower with a boy were just horseplay, not molestation.

NBC, Peter Kramer, Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Tuesday asked for a hearing into how federal laws apply to the investigation of the child sex-abuse case that has enveloped Penn State University.

In a letter sent to Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Richard Burr, Casey called for a hearing in a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

He said he wanted to see how well federal laws protect children and to ensure that provisions for reporting suspected cases are in place.

Pennsylvania is not one of the 18 states that require all adults to report suspected child abuse.

The request results from the state investigation into Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who is charged with abusing eight children over a 15-year period.

Also charged were a pair of Penn State administration officials — then-athletic director Tim Curley and former senior vice president Gary Schultz. They are accused of not reporting alleged abuse on the campus to law enforcement and with lying to a grand jury.

All three men have said they are innocent.

"The serious nature of these allegations and the evidence on the public record of failure to report by individuals at Penn State warrants an immediate review of the relationship between federal and state reporting requirements on child abuse and neglect" Casey, a Democrat, wrote.

Justine Sessions, a spokeswoman for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions said it was "closely monitoring this situation and the ongoing criminal and Department of Education investigations, and will take Sen. Casey's request under consideration."

Casey's request came one day after Sandusky, once considered Paterno's heir apparent, said he had showered with young boys and hugged them but called the allegedly criminal contact "horseplay."

Sandusky told NBC News' "Rock Center" on Monday night that he was not a pedophile but, in retrospect, should not have showered with the boys he's charged with sexually assaulting.

In an interview with Bob Costas, Sandusky proclaimed his innocence in the face of a series of startling allegations detailed in a grand jury report.

"I am innocent of those charges," Sandusky said. "... I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."

The grand jury said some of the crimes happened at Penn State, where Sandusky had access to campus as an emeritus professor following his 1999 retirement as Paterno's top defensive assistant.

Asked whether he was sexually attracted to underage boys, Sandusky said "sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."

Asked if there was anything he had done wrong, Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."

When pressed about how two people could claim to have witnessed Sandusky engaged in sexual contact with boys on two different occasions, Sandusky replied that "you'd have to ask" them.

The scandal has hit hard the community called Happy Valley, where "success with honor" is the motto. Paterno and University President Graham Spanier have lost their jobs. Curley and Schultz also have left their posts.

The interview with Costas was Sandusky's first public comment on the charges. He had previously maintained his innocence through his attorney, Joe Amendola.

"We anticipate we're going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say 'This never happened. This is me. This is the allegation. It never occurred,'" Amendola said on the NBC broadcast.

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