August 2, 2015

OP-ED: Legislation will help keep Pa. safe from pedophiles

8-2-15 Pennsylvania, West Virginia:

Twelve-year-old Jeremy Bell did not have to die. Especially under such gruesome circumstances — brutally raped and murdered by his elementary school principal in West Virginia. In fact, that pedophile should not have even been at the West Virginia school.

The story begins in the 1970s, at Prospect Park Elementary School in Delaware County, Pa. Child after child, boys 10 to 12, came forward and told the school officials how the fifth-grade science teacher had groped them and performed sexual acts on them — raping at least one boy. The school, shockingly, took the teacher’s side: The principal wrote the teacher a letter of recommendation and helped him land a new job in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

For two decades, that teacher continued to brutalize children in West Virginia, until one night, 12-year-old Jeremy Bell paid the price: He was raped and murdered by the educator.

As fathers, we wish this tragedy was unique. Sadly, we know better. Last year, 459 school employees were arrested across America for sexual misconduct with children — more than one per day of the year. Twenty-six arrests involved Pennsylvania educators. And, just halfway into 2015, we have seen more than 260 arrests, including 16 in Pennsylvania. And these are just the predators that we have caught.
We cannot find any official source which supports the claim that "459 school employees were arrested last year." That claim was also made in Congress when a bill "PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM SEXUAL AND VIOLENT PREDATORS ACT -- (Senate - March 10, 2015)" was introduced. see "Justice eventually caught up with the killer, and he is now serving a life sentence for that murder. But for little Jeremy Bell that justice came too late. And, sadly, Jeremy Bell is not alone. Last year we had 459 school employees across America arrested for sexual misconduct with the very children they are supposed to be protecting and teaching and caring for. That is more than one per day. And those are just the ones where there was enough evidence to actually prosecute, to make an arrest and to pursue charges. How many others were getting away with this? Frankly, 2015 is not off to a much better start. So far we are 69 days into the new year and there have already been 82 school employees arrested across the country for sexual misconduct with the schoolchildren in their care. "

The official source of school crime is found in "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2014" which does not support the 459 claim.
The practice of schools helping a child molester land a teaching job at another school is so common, that it has its own moniker —“passing the trash.”

Together, we are fighting to protect our children from this horrific practice. Being from different political parties, we do not always agree on everything. But all parents can agree that we must keep child molesters out of our schools.

One of us, a member of the Pennsylvania state Senate, helped lead the fight to have the state Legislature adopt the S.E.S.A.M.E. Act. The S.E.S.A.M.E. Act banned passing the trash within Pennsylvania, requiring all schools to conduct thorough background checks with each previous employer and barring them from recommending for future employment those accused of sexual abuse.

But state legislation is not enough. Pennsylvania law cannot stop schools in other states from passing their pedophile employees to Pennsylvania schools.

That is where the other one of us, a U.S. senator, has stepped up, taking the fight to Washington, D.C. Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Sen. Toomey’s bipartisan proposal to ban passing the trash nationwide. The passage of this federal legislation is a significant step forward toward protecting our children from child molesters.

These efforts show how state and federal officials, working together, can stop the heinous practice of passing the trash.

Pat Toomey is a Republican U.S. senator for Pennsylvania. Anthony Hardy Williams is a Democratic state senator from Philadelphia who represents the 8th Senatorial District. ..Source.. by The Mercury Columns

Note this comment from another article:

"Even with the good work done by the law enforcement agents and children advocates here, more than 450 teachers and school employees were arrested last year alone on charges of sexual misconduct with children. That's more than one per day," Fitzpatrick said. "What's more appalling is that these are just the cases we were able to catch. According to the Government Accountability Office, the average pedophile teacher preys on and assaults 73 children over a lifetime." No GAO report supports this claim either.

Further research has uncovered this possible source:

More teachers are having sex with their students. Here’s how schools can stop them. 1-20-2015 by Terry Abbott who is chairman of Drive West Communications and a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education.

A 14-year-old student in Florida wrote his cellphone number on a classroom chalkboard because he wanted a classmate he liked to call him. The student indeed was contacted – not by the girl but allegedly by his 32-year-old teacher. Within days, police said, the two were involved in a sexual relationship.

In Pennsylvania, a 33-year-old teacher approached a 17-year-old student at a school dance and began flirting with him, police said. The married teacher then sent the student sexual text messages and photos, along with a video of herself performing lewd acts, according to news reports. The relationship escalated, and the teacher pleaded guilty last month to institutional sexual assault.

Unfortunately, these kinds of stories are becoming more common across the country. In 2014 alone, there were 781 reported cases of teachers and other school employees accused or convicted of sexual relationships with students. My firm, Drive West Communications, has been tracking news reports of sexual misconduct by educators for more than a year. Every week has brought news of 15 young people, on average, who were sexually victimized by the educators entrusted with protecting them. That’s an abhorrent rate and a trend that deserves far more attention from school leaders and policy makers. ..Continued at link above..

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