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Gov. Corbett Signs New Child Abuse Legislation

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(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Governor Tom Corbett today signed the first in a package of bills strengthening Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University.

Corbett signed two of the bills in the package at a ceremony in Mechanicsburg, near Harrisburg.   One of those bills, considered by many to be the centerpiece of the package, was sponsored by state representative Scott Petri (R-Bucks County, at left in photo).

That bill clarifies the definition of child abuse, which Petri says has heretofore been weak.

“There was an extremely high threshold with unclear guidelines,” Petri said.  “Children and youth caseworkers who do a phenomenal job have been forced to leave children in unsafe situations because the law wasn’t on the side of the child.”

Among the other bills in the package are measures that would broaden the definition of child abusers, would provide immunity to people who report abuse, would streamline child abuse investigations, and would establish the offense of luring a  child into a motor vehicle or structure.

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