SAN FRANCISCO
11/23/2011 06:16 pm ET

Penn State California Law: Legislator Looks To Prevent Scandal From Repeating Itself In Golden State

While the shocking sexual abuse scandal at Penn State left a lot of people wagging their tongues, one California legislator has decided to do something to prevent some similar from ever happening in his state.

San Diego Democrat Juan Vargas has introduced legislation requiring all college-level coaches and athletic directors in the state to report any incidents of child abuse they witness to the proper authorities or face harsh consequences.

"After reading the grand jury report [on the Penn State sex abuse case], I got sick," Vargas said in a written statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I couldn't believe these men, who are adults and leaders, didn't take the abuse they witnessed and learned of immediately to the police."

Vargas's bill would give coaches at both public and private universities the same legal responsibility to report abuse as doctors and social workers. If a coach knowingly ignores an incident of abuse, they could be slapped with a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Sign On San Diego reports:

Passage is far from certain. Between the budget crunch and the shift of some state inmates to counties, the Legislature may be reluctant to pass laws that increase jail times--and state costs.

Vargas realizes that, but said "this has got to be an exception. It's an absolute injustice."

California isn't the only place where the Penn State scandal is spurring new legislation. A new law proposed by a group of Wisconsin legislators aims to end the state's statute of limitations on civil sex abuse lawsuits involving minors.

On the national level, California Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, called upon the committee's Republican chairman to schedule a hearing looking into whether federal laws should be amended to better protect children.

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