Local attorney explains Mandatory Reporter Law limitations in Ge - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local attorney explains Mandatory Reporter Law limitations in Georgia

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We're looking into Georgia's mandatory reporter law, that requires teachers to report suspected abuse only if the victim is their student, or the abuse is reported to them at school.
 
A local attorney, who has prosecuted mandatory reporting cases in the past, says it all comes down to the circumstances and manner in which the mandatory reporter in question learns of the abuse. 

Attorney Adam Cathey explains the mandatory reporting law in Georgia has limitations after a 2014 Supreme Court ruling.

That case involved a teacher accused of failing to report abuse of a former student who was not attending school at the time she disclosed the alleged abuse. 

 "The Supreme Court of Georgia in May vs. State, A 2014 Supreme court case found that the statute in question limits a person's duty to report to situations where the abuse is discovered in furtherance of their duties and caring for the children or the child in question," said Attorney Adam Cathey. 

In other words, the word "child" does not mean literally "any child."  Instead the statutory obligation to report the abuse of a child only applies to children the mandatory reporter cares for as a part of their job.

If a teacher learns a child not under their care is abused and it is outside of their employment, Cathey explains the teacher would be under no more duty than a normal citizen to report the abuse. 
 
District Attorney Bert Poston cited the existing Mandatory Reporting law when he announced charges of failure to report child abuse were being dropped against a former North Georgia coach arrested in October. Poston tells Channel 3, the law as existed at the time of his arrest, did not require the coach to report based on the circumstances and manner in which he learned of the abuse. 

The District Attorney tells us a bill that would have closed what prosecutors consider to be a loophole, failed to move out of committee last legislative session. He expects the issue to come back up in this legislative session, which begins in January. 
 

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