Failing to Report Sexual Abuse May Be a Crime

In the wake of shocking allegations against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, new issues of criminal liability have been raised against Coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials.

It is alleged that Sandusky’s raping and sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy was reported to Paterno and university officials, though they did nothing in response. Now Paterno and others have separate criminal defense lawyers to respond to the possible criminal charges against them that they took no steps to report the abuse.

In Arizona, certain individuals, such as doctors, psychologists, social workers, teachers, clergy, and others have an affirmative duty to report child abuse and child sexual abuse if they receive information that it has occurred. Failing to make such a report could constitute a criminal offense.

Also, parents who allow another person to abuse or molest their child can be charged with child abuse under Arizona law for failing to protect them. Those convicted of the offense can receive stiff sentences, in addition to losing their parental rights.

Expect a national push to reform reporting requirements when child abuse is suspected.