CYS: Child abuse cases highest in months, 19 reported in December

BROOKVILLE — From the time the child abuse allegations against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky were revealed Nov. 5, prompting his arrest, Jefferson County’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 — some of the highest numbers he’s ever seen.

“The referrals are particularly child abuse investigations,” Mowrey said. “I think that we can maybe correlate that to the Penn State situation, it appears.”

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.

“Since that date, which is particular to when the arrest was announced, we have seen a substantial increase,” Mowrey said. “Whether that plateaus, increases further, or goes down, it’s too early to tell.”

In December, Jefferson County’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.

“It’s too early to call it a trend, but it’s a definite concern at a time when the budget’s being cut,” 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 county’s Children & Youth Services.

“We’re given the opportunity to give feedback as to where we are in spending, and then they’re going to hopefully have some sanity in how they disperse that one percent cut,” Mowrey said.

Commissioner Jim McIntyre said the Human Services Development Fund could see an even higher cut, at five-percent.

“People in human services step up to the plate, but really, how long is it going to be until the well really runs dry?” McIntyre said. “Only so much can be done. Ultimately, it could come back on the local taxpayers, through property taxes, and we really don’t want to see that happen — that’s a fact.”

Mowrey said he would be willing to speak with anyone in the county who is interested in giving feedback to his department.

“If anyone ever wants to come and sit down and look at those numbers together, we’re equipped to do that,” Mowrey said. “Because it does have an impact on all the general public, whether they realize it or not. We’re always looking for feedback and help.”