BROOKVILLE â€” From the time the child abuse allegations against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky were revealed Nov. 5, prompting his arrest, Jefferson Countyâ€™s director of Children & Youth Services, Brian Mowrey, has seen a spike in the number of reported child abuse cases.
According to Mowrey, in the last two months, there has been an increase in referrals to the office of Children & Youth Services â€” some of the highest numbers heâ€™s ever seen.
â€śThe referrals are particularly child abuse investigations,â€ť Mowrey said. â€śI think that we can maybe correlate that to the Penn State situation, it appears.â€ť
Sandusky was indicted on dozens of counts of child sexual abuse Nov. 4, 2011.
A grand jury statement revealed the details of multiple accounts of alleged sexual acts on children he met through The Second Mile, the non-profit foundation he founded for at-risk youth in 1977.
Nov. 5, 2011, Sandusky turned himself in to authorities. He has maintained his innocence.
â€śSince that date, which is particular to when the arrest was announced, we have seen a substantial increase,â€ť Mowrey said. â€śWhether that plateaus, increases further, or goes down, itâ€™s too early to tell.â€ť
In December, Jefferson Countyâ€™s Children & Youth Services investigated 19 direct child abuse cases. The average for one month is six to eight cases.
And this increase does not come at a good time, especially when the department continues to see funding cuts.
â€śItâ€™s too early to call it a trend, but itâ€™s a definite concern at a time when the budgetâ€™s being cut,â€ť Mowrey said.
According to Mowrey, the state is expected to hand down a one-percent cut, statewide, to human services.
That one-percent cut translates to $16 million statewide and $16,000 for the countyâ€™s Children & Youth Services.
â€śWeâ€™re given the opportunity to give feedback as to where we are in spending, and then theyâ€™re going to hopefully have some sanity in how they disperse that one percent cut,â€ť Mowrey said.
Commissioner Jim McIntyre said the Human Services Development Fund could see an even higher cut, at five-percent.
â€śPeople in human services step up to the plate, but really, how long is it going to be until the well really runs dry?â€ť McIntyre said. â€śOnly so much can be done. Ultimately, it could come back on the local taxpayers, through property taxes, and we really donâ€™t want to see that happen â€”Â thatâ€™s a fact.â€ť
Mowrey said he would be willing to speak with anyone in the county who is interested in giving feedback to his department.
â€śIf anyone ever wants to come and sit down and look at those numbers together, weâ€™re equipped to do that,â€ť Mowrey said. â€śBecause it does have an impact on all the general public, whether they realize it or not. Weâ€™re always looking for feedback and help.â€ť