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June 23, 2024 Clouds | 84°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 20M: Disclosure of confidential communication regarding human trafficking victim by caseworker

Section 20M. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:—

''Confidential communication'', information transmitted in confidence by and between a victim and a victim's caseworker by a means which does not disclose the information to a person other than a person present for the benefit of the victim, or to those to whom disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to the counseling and assisting of such victim. The term confidential communication shall include all information received by a victim's caseworker which arises out of and in the course of such counseling and assisting including, but not limited to, reports, records, working papers or memoranda.

''Human trafficking victim'' or ''victim'', a person who is subjected to the conduct prohibited under sections 50 or 51 of chapter 265.

''Human trafficking victims' caseworker,'' a person who is employed by or volunteers with a program serving human trafficking victims, who has undergone a minimum of 25 hours of training and who reports to and is under the direct control and supervision of a direct service supervisor of a human trafficking victim program, and whose primary purpose is the rendering of advice, counseling or assistance to human trafficking victims.

''Human trafficking victims' program'', any refuge, shelter, office, safe house, institution or center established for the purpose of offering assistance to human trafficking victims through crisis intervention, medical, legal or support counseling.

(b) A human trafficking victims' caseworker shall not disclose any confidential communication without the prior written consent of the victim, or the victim's guardian in the case of a child, except as hereinafter provided. Such confidential communication shall not be subject to discovery in any civil, legislative or administrative proceeding without the prior written consent of the victim, or victim's guardian in the case of a child, to whom such confidential communication relates. In criminal actions such confidential communication shall be subject to discovery and shall be admissible as evidence but only to the extent of information contained therein which is exculpatory in relation to the defendant; provided, however, that the court shall first examine such confidential communication and shall determine whether or not such exculpatory information is contained in the communication before allowing such discovery or the introduction of such evidence.

(c) During the initial meeting between a caseworker and victim, the caseworker shall inform the human trafficking victim and any guardian thereof of the confidentiality of communications between a caseworker and victim and the limitations thereto.