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Reporting Child Abuse

Can a reporter be sued if the abuse did not actually occur?

Arizona
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• Can a person who reports suspected child abuse be sued if it is later determined that the abuse did not actually occur? That was the issue before an Arizona appeals court. A mother began taking her 5-year-old son to a counselor. The mother later informed the counselor that her 3-year-old daughter had described being molested by her father. Based on this information, the counselor reported the alleged child abuse to state authorities. The father was indicted on two felony counts, but the charges were later dismissed. The father then sued the counselor for actual and punitive damages. A trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and the father appealed. A state appeals court agreed with the trial court that the counselor could not be sued for making a report of child abuse. It noted that counselors are "mandatory reporters" under Arizona law, meaning that they have a legal obligation to report ...

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  • November 2, 1992

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