Study: Pa. 2nd highest in teacher-related sex crimes

A new study shows 28 Pennsylvania teachers were involved in sex crime cases this year, the second-highest number in the nation.

The study by Drive West Communications looked at 416 sexual abuse cases involving teachers in the United States reported since January.

By comparison, California comes in third with two fewer reported cases this year. Keep in mind, California’s population outnumbers Pennsylvania by about 25 million people.

“You would assume that California would have the most cases. In fact, there have only been 26 cases,” said Terry Abbott, chairman of the Houston, Texas-based firm.

Texas ranked highest in the study.

“It’s not so much the size of the state,” said Abbott, “I think in some cases it is the culture of the school districts.”

Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm adds that there may be something else at play.

“We have had a historical case in the commonwealth with Jerry Sandusky,” she said, “People are talking about sexual assault cases in ways they never have.”

People may be talking, but young people are texting, and both Storm and Abbott say that has changed the game.

“Now, nationally, more than 30 percent of the cases are starting with Facebook and text messaging,” Abbott said.

Storm adds that social media can aide in the prosecution of these cases while also helping to get the word out.

Abbott is clear: we’ve all got some work to do.

“That’s why I think states like Pennsylvania need to look inward and determine if they are handling these cases the right way, and in some cases they are not,” he said.

Abbott, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education, said his firm tracked news reports from around the country to compile the list.

He said that means rural areas lacking any media coverage of such cases may have been left out.

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