Senate Puts Sex Abuse Bill on Informal Calendar

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Senate had tried fixing the child sex abuse bill, but then detoured it to the informal calendar for the time being.

The bill is a direct result of the scandal involving former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky. What's critical here is the word witness.  The bill requires anyone 18 or older that witnesses a child being sexually abused to report it to authorities. Those who don't could face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

"Obviously this was brought to life by the Penn State scandal where somebody actually witnessed it and wasn't required to go to the police," said Eric Schmitt of St. Louis County.  "In Pennsylvania law, they're not required. In Missouri law they're not either."

Republican Clay County Senator LuAnn Ridgeway disagrees with the wording of the bill. She worries teenagers who report abuse by their own parents, could then be hurt by those parents. Ridgeway spoke out against the bill on Monday. The senate bill would have to be put back on a formal calendar before it's perfected in the senate.