It was reported in the Los Angeles Times that over 400 cases of alleged sexual abuse went unreported by the Boy Scouts of America over a period of 20 years. If this information turns out to be accurate in anyway this would be a shocking indictment of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Boy Scouts are entrusted with the care of tens of thousands of young boys by the parents of these children. If in fact in is true that when allegations of sexual or physical abuse were made the Boys Scouts took no steps to report these allegations to authorities then this is truly tragic.
In California it is a crime to fail to report child abuse if you are a mandated reporter. You can be prosecuted and sentenced to jail for failure to report suspected child abuse. There is no way of knowing from the Los Angeles Times article how many of these cases would have occurred in California. The report says that the period in question ended in 1991.
We can only pray that since 1991 the Boy Scouts of America have cleaned up their act. When a minor comes forward and reports to someone in authority that they have been physically or sexually abused then the adult who receives this information has a legal as well as a moral obligation to notify the authorities. Many organizations do not want the “negative publicity” that comes with allegations of abuse of minors. In other cases, “friends support friends” and those in authority do not want others in their organization to be accused of criminal wrongdoing. None of these reasons is a valid excuse for failure to report suspected child abuse.
Once a report is made then it is up to the local police agency to do a complete investigation. In a high number of these cases no criminal charges are brought because the police determine no crime was committed. In other cases criminal charges are brought and a jury will decide if a crime was committed. This is how our system works.
If persons who suspect abuse do not report the abuse then the law is clear. You will be prosecuted and you can go to jail.
Please contact our law firm if you have any questions about your legal obligation to report suspected child abuse. Call us at 888-280-6839.