Mandated Reporters

Under Connecticut law, the following people are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse: doctors, nurses, medical examiners, dentists, dental hygienists, psychologists, coaches, school teachers, school principals, school guidance counselors, school paraprofessionals, social workers, police officers, juvenile or adult probation and /or parole officers, members of the clergy, pharmacists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, mental health professionals, physician's assistants, certified EMT providers, certified drug and alcohol counselors, licensed marital and family therapists, sexual assault and/or battered women's counselors, paid child care providers in public or private facilities, child day care centers, licensed group and /or family day care centers, employees of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Public Health if responsible for licensing day care centers homes or youth camps or the Office of Child Advocate and the Child Advocate.

Any person so identified who in the course of his or her employment or profession has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been inflicted with nonaccidental injuries or is at imminent risk of serious harm must report or cause a report to be made in accordance with state law. Violation of the law will result in a monetary fine and required participation in an educational and training program. See Connecticut General Statutes Sections 17-101(b); 17a-101a.

If you saw a man raping a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower, what would you do?

Surely you don't have to think about that. First, you'd act. Then? You'd report it. Ethically, we are all mandated reporters, or people charged to tell authorities if we see or suspect child abuse. Here in Connecticut, those authorities are the law enforcement agencies, and the state Department of Children and Family Services.

But legally, Connecticut's list of mandated reporters includes members of specific professions, such as medicine, education, child care, and the like. The rest of us — again, legally — are off the hook. In fact, just 18 states (and Puerto Rico) assign to all adults the role of mandated reporter, said Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

Another state with a fairly narrowly defined list of mandated reporters? Pennsylvania, where all eyes are on a horrible, institutional child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University. According to a 23-page grand jury indictment, reports of the school's defensive football coordinator Gerald A. Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse of a series of boys never left the campus. No child protection agencies were called, nor were police. Instead, Sandusky was allowed to do what any skilled pedophile would do: He put himself in close proximity to vulnerable youths — in this case, with a charity he founded. He plied those kids with gifts, and he gave them opportunities they never would have had — all in exchange for sex. The people who should have done something didn't. Despite the horrendous nature of what Sandusky is accused of doing, time and again the institution came first.


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Common Questions About Mandatory Reporters

I do not want my identity revealed. Is there a way that I can file a claim and remain anonymous?

You can ask permission from the Court to file your case under a pseudonym (e.g., Jane Doe or John Doe). It is up to the judge to grant or deny your request.

 


If there is a criminal case presently pending against the perpetrator, can I still file a civil suit?

 

Yes. The two cases can proceed at the same time, but there may be reasons to wait, if possible, until the criminal case has concluded.

 


What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Is there a different burden of proof?

Many people know that the burden of proof (or evidence needed to prove the case) in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal cases require a very high standard because being found guilty of a crime is at stake as well as the potential to go to jail. In a civil case, no one is accused of a crime and cannot be found guilty. Instead, the question in a civil case is whether a person was negligent and responsible for damages to another. The burden of proof in a civil case, for example a motor vehicle accident, is lower (easier to prove) than in a criminal case. The standard is “more likely than not” the person was at fault or proof of just over 50% to win the case.

 


What is the statute of limitations with regard to filing a sexual abuse claim?

Under current Connecticut law, any person who claims damages as a result of being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, or sexually exploited as a child has until 30 years past the age of majority (typically until age 48) in which to file a claim in court. However, if you claim damages as a result of being sexually assaulted as an adult, then you have a much shorter time period in which to file a lawsuit. Typically you have three years from the date of the assault to file against the perpetrator for his or her intentional acts and two years from the date of the assault to file against any other person or entity (e.g., perpetrator's employer) who may have been negligent in allowing the perpetrator to have contact with you.


Who are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse?

Under Connecticut law, the following people are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse: doctors, nurses, medical examiners, dentists, dental hygienists, psychologists, coaches, school teachers, school principals, school guidance counselors, school paraprofessionals, social workers, police officers, juvenile or adult probation and /or parole officers, members of the clergy, pharmacists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, mental health professionals, physician’s assistants, certified EMT providers, certified drug and alcohol counselors, licensed marital and family therapists, sexual assault and/or battered women’s counselors, paid child care providers in public or private facilities, child day care centers, licensed group and /or family day care centers, employees of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Public Health if responsible for licensing day care centers homes or youth camps or the Office of Child Advocate and the Child Advocate.

Any person so identified who in the course of his or her employment or profession has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been inflicted with nonaccidental injuries or is at imminent risk of serious harm must report or cause a report to be made in accordance with state law. Violation of the law will result in a monetary fine and required participation in an educational and training program. See Connecticut General Statutes Sections 17-101(b); 17a-101a.


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