Child Abuse Reporting Laws for Montana

State and Statute: Montana, Code §§ 41-3-101 et seq.

What Is Reportable “Abuse”: Physical or psychological abuse, substantial risk of physical or psychological abuse, abandonment, sexual abuse, or neglect. [41-3-102(7)(a)(22)(a) and 41-3-201(1)]

Mandatory Reporters: Includes “a member of the clergy,” “religious healer,” school teachers and officials, school employees, employees of any registered or licensed day care facility. [41-3-201(2)]

A “member of the clergy” includes “(i) an ordained minister, priest, or rabbi; (ii) a commissioned or licensed minister of a church or church denomination that ordains ministers if the person has the authority to perform substantially all the religious duties of the church or denomination; (iii) a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty; or (iv) a Christian Science practitioner.” [15-6-201(2)(b)]

How and Where to Report: Department of Public Health and Human Services. [41-3-201(1)]

Timeline to Report: [41-3-201(1)]

Clergy Privilege: “A member of the clergy or a priest is not required to make a report under this section if: (i) the knowledge or suspicion of the abuse or neglect came from a statement or confession made to the clergyperson or priest in that person’s capacity as a clergyperson or priest; (ii) the statement was intended to be a part of a confidential communication between the clergyperson or priest and a member of the clergyperson’s or priest’s church or congregation; and (iii) the person who made the statement or confession does not consent to the disclosure by the clergyperson or priest.”

“A member of the clergy or priest is not required to make a report under this section if the communication is required to be confidential by canon law, church doctrine, or established church practice.” [41-3-201(6)(b)(c)]

Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: “Any person or official required by 41-3-201 to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect who purposely or knowingly fails to report known child abuse or neglect or purposely or knowingly prevents another person from making a report is guilty of a misdemeanor.” [41-3-207(2)]

“Any person or official required by 41-3-201 to report known or suspected sexual abuse or sexual exploitation who purposely or knowingly fails to report known sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child or purposely or knowingly prevents another person from making a report is guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 5 years or fined an amount not to exceed $10,000, or both.” [41-3-207(3)]

Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? Yes. “(A)ny person, official, or institution required by law to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect who fails to do so or who prevents another person from reasonably doing so is civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by the act or omission.” [41-3-207(1)]

Immunity for Inaccurate Report: “Anyone … reporting any incident of child abuse or neglect … is immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed unless the person was grossly negligent or acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or provided information knowing the information to be false.” [41-3-203(1)]

Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: Reporter’s identity is confidential except as provided by statute, with specific prohibition against disclosure when records are statutorily provided to the alleged perpetrator, and perpetrator’s attorney. [41-3-205(3)(h)]

Additional Information for Montana:

All information provided here was most recently verified in March of 2023.

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