In response in part to the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, Virginia will have a new law on July 1 requiring priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy members to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law two bills – HB 1659, sponsored by Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, and SB 1257, introduced by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier. The measures mandate that religious officials must report any suspected abuse to local law enforcement.
The bills passed unanimously in the House and Senate last month.
Existing state law lists 18 categories of people who must report information to local authorities if they “have reason to suspect that a child is an abused or neglected child.” They include health-care providers, police officers, athletic coaches and teachers.
The new law will add a 19th category to the list of “mandatory reporters”: “Any minister, priest, rabbi, imam, or duly accredited practitioner of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church.”
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