Key point 4-08. Every state has a child abuse reporting law that requires persons designated as mandatory reporters to report known or reasonably suspected incidents of child abuse. Ministers are mandatory reporters in many states. Some states exempt ministers from reporting child abuse if they learned of the abuse in the course of a conversation protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. Ministers may face criminal and civil liability for failing to report child abuse.
A Louisiana court ruled that a priest who learned of a case of child abuse in the course of counseling with the victim was not a mandatory reporter of child abuse under state law and was not subject to civil liability for failing to report the abuse to civil authorities. A family began attending a Catholic church where they met, and became friendly with, a parishioner ("Don") and the parish priest. From the young age of eight years, through her adolescent years, the family's minor daughter (the "victim") viewed Don as a "second grandfather."