Readers of this legal blog know that we frequently post about clergy abuse and how to fight back. And, recently, we discussed a sinister clergy loophole in over 30 states that allows clergy to not report child abuse. Of course, the immediate question is whether Louisiana has this same sinister clergy loophole.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. § 5106a(b)(2)(B)(i)) mandates that every state must have laws outlining mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. However, as the prior blog post outlined, these requirements are not uniform across state lines, especially for clergy.
Does Louisiana have the clergy loophole?
Thankfully, no. Louisiana is one of 28 states and Guam that makes clergy mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. However, if that clergy is acting as or employed as a mental health or social services practitioner, they may not have to report. However, that is only the case if they have been engaged by the child’s attorney.
Penalties for not reporting
Louisiana is one of 22 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands that have penalties for not reporting. If convicted, jail times range from 30 days to 5 years. In addition, potential fines range from $300 to $10,000, or both jail terms and fines. In 7 states, including ours, there are harsher penalties if the abuse was serious or sexual.
False reporting has consequences too
False reporting has consequences too. If someone willfully or intentionally makes a false child abuse report, they can face from 90 days to 5 years in jail, and up to a $5,000 fine. And, since clergy must provide their name and contact information with their report, false reporters can be found.
For Natchitoches, Louisiana, victims of clergy abuse, the fact that clergy are mandatory reporters may be cold comfort. However, hopefully, the requirement helped to end the abuse, and an attorney can help you fight back.