Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect
All States, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories have statutes identifying persons or professions who are required to report suspected child maltreatment to an appropriate agency, such as Child Protective Services, law enforcement, or a toll-free child abuse hotline. Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children. Such individuals may include:
Because a child cannot legally consent to having sex or any type of sexual contact, allowing or committing any sexual act against a child is defined in criminal code as sexual abuse. This includes: the intentional touching of sexual or intimate parts of a child, allowing or causing a child to engage in touching someone else's sexual or intimate parts, sexual exploitation (prostitution), and sexually explicit/obscene/pornographic activity to be filmed, photographed, or performed live. In one of our cases, Lewis v. the City of Enumclaw et. al, the perpetrator committed several of these acts. Additionally, all of these acts took place after the police were informed (by an anonymous tipper) that the perpetrator may be involved in child sexual abuse. Therefore, because sexual abuse occurred and because the police were aware that it was happening or could be happening, law enforcement acted negligently by failing to investigate or notify Child Protective Services. We believe that they should be held accountable for the physical and emotional injuries their actions caused our client.
The severe consequences of putting allegations of child abuse on the back burner
The ability and willingness of the police to protect and serve is called into question when they arbitrarily determine which instances of child abuse deserve investigation. In Lewis v. the City of Enumclaw et al, police and city negligence resulted in a living nightmare for our clients but the defendant police departments are now attempting to avoid taking responsibility for the matter. When the public cannot even trust authorities to correctly protect and serve, it is imperative that it be able to trust authorities to at least hold themselves accountable for their mistakes.
If we as a country and a society are going to continue to give extraordinary amounts of power to police officers, we must also hold them to extraordinary high standards when they do not do their jobs correctly or fairly. This is applicable in broader, systemic ways as well as more specific instances like the one we are dealing with in our case.
It is impossible to know why the defendant parties in Lewis v. the City of Enumclaw et al determined that this specific report of child sexual abuse was not worth investigation. But this type of misconduct should never happen again. Our clients' lives, their relationship with one another, and their relationship with the future men that come into the victim's life are forever changed. Years of therapy, anxiety, and romantic confusion lay ahead of them. This is simply one case that illustrates the severe consequences of putting allegations of child abuse on the back burner.
If you would like to learn more about your rights or believe that you have been discriminated against please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com