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Session Law

2002

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Chapter 107 AN ACT REQUIRING CERTAIN RELIGIOUS OFFICIALS TO REPORT ABUSE OF CHILDREN.

Whereas , The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is forthwith to mandate the reporting of abuse by certain religious officials and to protect the victims of child abuse, therefore, it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public safety and convenience.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. Section 51A of chapter 119 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 13 and 14, the words "office for children licensor" and inserting in place thereof the following words:- licensor of the office of child care services or any successor agency.

SECTION 2. Said section 51A of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the word "worker", in line 17, the following words:- , priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioner, person performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner, or person employed by a church or religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel a child on a regular basis.

SECTION 3. Said section 51A of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in line 86, the words "section twenty B" and inserting in place thereof the following words:- sections 20A and 20B.

SECTION 4. Said section 51A of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is herby further amended by adding the following paragraph:-

Notwithstanding section 20A of chapter 233, a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body or accredited Christian Science practitioner shall report all cases of abuse under this section, but need not report information solely gained in a confession or similarly confidential communication in other religious faiths. Nothing in the general laws shall modify or limit the duty of a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body or accredited Christian Science practitioner to report a reasonable cause that a child is being injured as set forth in this section when the priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body or accredited Christian Science practitioner is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make him a reporter.

SECTION 5. Any individual mentioned in section 51A of chapter 119 of the General Laws, as amended by section 2 of this act, who was not previously subject to said section 51A and who on the effective date of this act has reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 years is or was being injured as set forth in section 51A, except if this belief is based solely on information exempt from reporting under section 4 of this act, shall make the reports required by said section 51A to the department of social services within 30 days after the effective date of this act. If on the effective date of this act, the alleged victim is no longer under the age of 18 years, the individual required by this section to report shall instead make a report to the office of the district attorney for the district where the alleged abuse occurred within 30 days after the effective date of this act and shall notify the alleged victim in writing of this report.

Reports required by this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in said section 51A.

Approved May 3, 2002.

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