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Federal officials seeking involvement in Penn State probe

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 7:05 PM EST, Tue November 15, 2011
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, on Tuesday urged a congressional subcommittee on children and families to hold a hearing.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, on Tuesday urged a congressional subcommittee on children and families to hold a hearing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania says federal authorities are ready to get involved
  • Pennsylvania's Sen. Bob Casey calls for a hearing on laws to protect children

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal officials appear ready to be part of the headline-grabbing, state-controlled investigation into the disturbing sexual-abuse allegations at Penn State University.

U.S. Attorney Peter Smith of the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a statement Tuesday suggesting he was ready to join the ongoing state probe if asked.

"We will support and assist the Department of Education which has announced that it is conducting an investigation," he said in a written statement released to the public. The U.S. Department of Education has been looking into possible violations of a law that requires universities to report annually campus-related crime statistics.

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Regarding the ongoing state investigation, Smith said, "We are in contact with the State Attorney General's office ... We have agreed to provide any assistance to that office in connection with its investigation and prosecution that may be needed, and we will coordinate the work of both offices in this important matter as much as possible."

Meanwhile, Congress also sought to find an entry point into the Penn State drama Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, urged a subcommittee on children and families to hold a hearing on federal laws designed to protect children from sexual abuse.

"We must strengthen our laws to ensure that any suspected abuse is immediately reported to law enforcement and child protective service," Casey said in a letter to Senate panel members.

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