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False Accusations of Child Abuse

Can reporters of child abuse be sued if the alleged abuse did not actually occur?

Can one who reports a suspected case of child abuse be sued by the alleged offender if the report later proves to have been false? That was the issue before a California state appeals court. A two-month old child suffering from a congenital defect (arteriovenous malformation of the brain) was taken to a local hospital, and then transferred to a regional children's hospital. A doctor employed by the children's hospital failed to recognize that the infant was suffering from a congenital defect, and instead diagnosed the child as suffering from injuries of a nonaccidental nature which could only have resulted from a violent shaking or a fall.

Because of the suspicion of child abuse, the doctor filed a report with the state. The infant died from the condition four days later, and his remains were transferred to the coroner for an autopsy. The autopsy described the cause of death ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • July 1, 1991

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