Throughout the past few days, the sex crimes scandal that has taken over Penn State has been hard to miss. Tonight, news reports indicate that Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach, has contacted a high profile criminal defense attorney. He has been widely criticized for having knowledge of allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the ex-defensive coordinator, was sexually abusing young boys. Based on conversations with numerous friends and colleagues, it is clear that many people feel Joe Paterno had a moral and ethical obligation to report the knowledge he had about the sex crimes to law enforcement. The question remains whether he also had a legal obligation to report them as well.
In Michigan, certain individuals are obligated by law to report suspicions of sexual abuse and sex crimes against children. These people are called “mandated reporters.” The list of mandated reporters in Michigan includes the following:
A physician, dentist, physician's assistant, registered dental hygienist, medical examiner, nurse, person licensed to provide emergency medical care, audiologist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, social worker, licensed master's social worker, licensed bachelor's social worker, registered social service technician, social service technician, a person employed in a professional capacity in any office of the friend of the court, school administrator, school counselor or teacher, law enforcement officer, member of the clergy, regulated child care provider, or any employee of an organization or entity that, as a result of federal funding statutes, regulations, or contracts would be prohibited from reporting in the absence of a state mandate or court order (e.g., domestic violence providers). The list also includes specific DHS personnel: eligibility specialist, family independence manager, family independence specialist, social services specialist, social work specialist, social work specialist manager and welfare services specialist.
If any of the mandated reporters listed above fail to report a suspicion of abuse or neglect, they face criminal and civil penalties. Shannon Smith has represented clients criminally accused of failing to report suspected abuse, so this is not an obligation to take lightly.
If you have further questions regarding your duties as a Michigan mandated reporter, click here to read more and call for a consultation with our office. The written form that mandated reporters are required to submit (commonly called a 3200) can be found here.