A non-profit for at-risk children founded by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is now charged with molesting boys, is suggesting that its donors contribute to a statewide organization that helps sexual assault victims.
Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Center Against Rape (PCAR), said that Second Mile officials contacted them a week ago.
"They said they were considering this and would we be open to it," Houser said. "We did discuss it with our executive committee, and felt that because it's simply giving their donors an option, it's fully the individual's discretion whether they donate to us, whether our mission is something they would support, we felt that it was fine."
Houser said that Second Mile is sending its annual letter to its donors this week and including information about PCAR and a coupon to use if the contributors would like to donate to the orgnization.
Second Mile is not commenting, but placed a statement on their website that said its focus remains on the victims.
"Indeed, our organization is committed to supporting survivors of sexual violence throughout Pennsylvania. In that spirit, we are strongly encouraging our donors to support the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Effective immediately, we ask that you join us in this commitment to sexual abuse survivors by sending your donations to PCAR to support sexual abuse prevention as well as the counseling needs of sexual abuse victims."
The statement went on to say that Second Mile is continuing to review options "for the next phase of our programs," and that December programs will continue as scheduled. Second Mile was founded in 1977 by Sandusky, who was indicted this month with sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period.
Houser says that the Center Against Rape provides funding and training to a network of 51 rape crisis centers that serve victims in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. "Our mission is really simple," Houser said. "We work to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and to advocate for the rights and needs of victims of sexual assault."
She added that a lot of good can come from the Sandusky case because child sexual assault is not a topic people are comfortable discussing. "This is a wonderful opportunity for people to pay attention, to get factual information about child sexual assault: who commits the assaults, what the warnings signs are."
Houser said that the case demonstrates that "protecting all children is not just an individual responsibility" but also a community obligation.