In some states, ANY person who knows or reasonably suspects that a child is being sexually abused has a legal duty to immediately report the matter or face criminal charges and financial penalties. Michigan is not one of those states. But recently, it took a step closer after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed new legislation that expands the list of professionals who have mandatory reporting obligations of suspected abuse.
In Michigan, any person can report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, but only certain people are legally required to report. Mandatory reporters include:
- Teachers and School Administrators
- Child care providers
- Therapists and Counselors
- Law Enforcement
- Social Workers
The new law signed by Gov. Whitmer expands that list to include:
- Athletic Trainers
- Physical Therapists
- Physical Therapist Assistants
- Occupational Therapists
The legislation follows as a result of the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University. Dr. Nassar served as a team physician at MSU and for USA Gymnastics. Over the course of his career, he sexually assaulted hundreds of girls during medical exams, most of them athletes. Some of these girls reported what Dr. Nassar was doing to them to athletic trainers – who were dismissive or would advise they would report the matter to their supervisor, which they never did. While their conduct was found to be unethical, it was not criminal. The new law changes that.
The new law adds physical and occupational therapist and athletic trainers to the mandatory reporter list. For these individuals, suspected abuse must be reported to Centralized Intake at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Simply reporting the suspected abuse to a supervisor or department head does not fulfill their legal obligation.
While the law protects mandatory reporters from civil and criminal prosecution for making a good faith report, failure to file a report subjects mandatory reports to both civil and criminal liability. More importantly, the child may continue to be exposed to the abuse.
Charles Boyk Law Offices is a sophisticated plaintiff injury firm that has successfully represented thousands of injured individuals in Ohio, Michigan, as well as across the United States. Our expert attorneys are committed to fighting for victims of sexual assault that occurs at the hands of professionals. If you or a family member has experienced a sexual assault and would like to talk about what options you may have, please contact us. Calls are confidential and we do not charge for consultations.