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New Mexico Court: Child Abuse Reporting Laws Did Not Apply to Pastor’s Testimony

The defendant in this case was protected by both the clergy-penitent privilege and state statute.

Key point 3-08.08. Clergy who are mandatory reporters of child abuse are excused from a duty to report in many states if they learn of the abuse in the course of a conversation covered by the clergy-penitent privilege. Some state child abuse reporting laws do not contain this exception.

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 New Mexico court ruled that the designation of clergy as mandatory reporters under state child abuse reporting laws does not serve as a ...

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