Thursday, September 25, 2008

Child Molestors Referee Pennsylvania school games

Push on for refs' scrutiny
3rd bill introduced to alter PIAA rules
Thursday, September 25, 2008
By Bill Moushey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Another legislative bill intent on forcing registered PIAA athletic officials to undergo criminal background checks was introduced yesterday in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in Harrisburg. It is the third to be introduced this week.

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, citing recent Post-Gazette reports that showed child pornographers, molesters and other criminals continued to officiate games despite convictions, introduced a bill with more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors requiring background checks on all officials who participate in sporting events on school property.

"We must protect our children from child predators in Pennsylvania," DeLuca said.

His bill will be sent to the House Education Committee.

Brad Cashman, executive director of the PIAA, has said existing checks and balances over officials and their criminal records are adequate, stating the newspaper reports identified less than 1 percent of all WPIAL officials as having criminal records. He had no comment on DeLuca's filing yesterday.

"I don't care if it was half a percent, all you need is a couple of kids to be harmed, you can't make up for the devastation they'd go through the rest of their lives. If one person gets harmed because there is no oversight, it would be horrible," DeLuca said.

The PIAA will consider instituting background checks at its October meeting.

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