Proposed Child Abuse Reporting Expansion (CARE) Act Would Require Clergy to Report Child Abuse in New York State

New York State Assemblywoman Monica Wallace was joined by attorney Barry N. Covert and law professor Christine Bartholomew to introduce the Child Abuse Reporting Expansion (CARE) Act. The proposed law would require all members of the clergy, including Catholic Priests, to report child abuse in New York State.

Under New York State law, an extensive list of professionals are on a “mandatory reporters” list, which requires individuals in those professions to report any suspected cases of child abuse to the proper authorities. Clergy are not included on this list of mandatory reporters. In addition, New York State’s current law includes a “clergy privilege”, which exempts clergy from reporting anything they hear in the course of a confession.

The CARE Act would add clergy to the mandatory reporters list and allow the “clergy privilege” exemption to stay in place for all cases except in any matters involving child abuse.

As a follow-up to the Child Victims Act, the CARE at seeks to close loopholes that still exist in New York State law, which might protect abusers and keep victims of child abuse at risk.

At the announcement of the CARE Act, attorney Barry Covert stated “[The CARE Act] now is going to prevent the church from claiming that there is confusion because they didn’t realize that they were supposed to report this abuse because they were not listed in the statute of legislation. Despite the fact they didn’t take the higher moral ground, then they hid behind the fact they weren’t listed, is now going to be eviscerated by this legislation.”

Several local media outlets reported on the announcement of the CARE Act, including WKBW 7 Eyewitness News. Click the video below to watch WKBW’s report on the proposed legislation.

For more information on the CARE Act or for any questions regarding the Child Victims Act and the legal rights of survivors of sexual abuse, please click here to contact Barry Covert.