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Mandatory Reporting

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When does the law require a person to report a crime by someone else?  That question is getting renewed attention in the wake of the Penn State scandal.

At common law, there was a crime called misprision of felony.  Most states have abolished it.  The federal code still has it, 18 U.S.C. ยง4, but that statute requires an element of concealment as well as nonreporting.

A wide variety of people whose work involves children are required to report child abuse under various state and federal laws. 

Everyone in mental health knows the Tarasoff rule, a case law tort rule requiring psychiatrists, etc. to break confidentiality and warn the target of a specific threat by their patient.  Too bad our profession will not accept for itself the same kind of duty to report and limit on confidentiality that it imposed on another.

Kimberly Hefling of AP has this story on the Clery Act.
The 1990 law is what's known as the Clery Act, named in honor of Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania who was beaten, raped in murdered in her dorm room by another student in 1986. Under it, colleges and universities must report the number of crimes on campus and provide warnings in a timely manner if safety is threatened.

The Education Department announced Wednesday evening that it would conduct an investigation at Penn State, where the university's former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with molesting eight boys in 15 years and two university officials have been arrested on charges they failed to notify authorities after being told about an incident. Some of the alleged incidents occurred in the university football complex.

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There was an interesting recent ruling in Colorado regarding confidentiality between attorneys and kids but I think it applies only to an attorney for whom the child is the client in a custody case. I have not read the full opinion but I thought it might be of interest to you.


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