After a state trooper admitted that he sexually assaulted six women, after the state paid $6 million to his victims, after news broke of sexual harassment by top commanders, the Pennsylvania State Police cleaned up its act.

It tightened recruiting and updated training to include lessons on sexual misconduct.

Now, commanders must investigate all complaints, even anonymous ones. Before the scandal broke, cases were dropped if a woman didn't sign a form and disclose her identity.

In 2004, the agency created a watchdog's job, a senior commander who oversees handling of misconduct complaints.

"Our troopers now know out there that if they engage in that kind of conduct, they could lose their jobs," said Lt. Col. John R. Brown, the agency's first deputy commissioner for professional responsibility.

He says the changes have started to correct a culture of apathy.

"We thought we had a big mountain to climb," Brown said. "But we're definitely a whole lot better than we were a couple of years ago."

The shake-up was triggered by the 1999 arrest of former Trooper Michael K. Evans, a serial sex abuser who worked out of the Skippack barracks in Montgomery County.

Another state trooper once accused Evans of being a "hormonal sex freak" who was going to cause the force "great embarrassment in the future." But the department deep-sixed numerous warnings about Evans before he was finally charged.

Evans, now 39, pleaded guilty in 2000 to six sexual assaults, three involving teenage girls. He is serving five to 10 years in state prison.

A lawsuit filed by his victims unearthed a much wider scandal involving dozens of sexual-misconduct allegations against other state troopers - including one major who reportedly tried to rape his assistant.

"We didn't have a few bad apples," said Thomas Sheridan, the lawyer who filed that suit. "It was a systemic problem from top to bottom."

Brown said changes will make it harder for offenders to escape scrutiny and punishment. For one thing, Brown's office now reviews all disciplinary decisions. Before, regional commanders could impose disparate punishments for the same offenses.

The state police also has improved its database that tracks troopers' conduct, adding coding to identify instances of sexual misconduct or harassment.