Child sexual abuse reporting laws can also serve as the basis for civil liability. Seven states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New York, and Rhode Island, have passed laws that specifically provide that a mandated child abuse reporter, like a teacher, may be held civilly liable for damages caused by the failure to report sexual abuse. Other states also allow sexual abuse victims to recover damages for failures to report abuse, although they have not codified that right by law. In 1976, for instance, a California judge ruled that a doctor’s failure to report child abuse in violation of California’s mandatory reporting law could serve as the basis for a lawsuit for abuse, despite the fact the law itself did not provide a private cause of action. A powerful argument can be made that the California court’s reasoning should apply to lawsuits against schools and teachers for failure to report abuse.
Andreozzi + Foote represents survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault across the country, and has experience with mandatory reporting laws. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to sexual abuse, sexual assault, or another crime, do not hesitate to call our office. We do not charge for phone consultations, and will do everything we can to help.