Legislation will tighten reporting requirements and deter nonprofit organizations from concealing sexual abuse
SACRAMENTO – In the wake of the Penn State University sex abuse scandal and recent reports of sexual abuse cover-ups by Boy Scouts of America, Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is moving to introduce new legislation that would strip nonprofits of their tax-exempt status if they are caught concealing, fostering, or failing to report the sexual abuse of children. Lara's legislation will also work to improve California's reporting requirements.
"The deliberate cover-up of the monstrous crimes against children at Penn State demands an immediate review of California's sexual abuse reporting requirements. The call for action to deter nonprofits from covering-up, fostering, or failing to report abuse is clear," said Lara. "Nonprofit organizations at all levels – universities, faith-based, or after-school programs – should be held accountable for their actions. As a victim, I know firsthand the devastating effects of abuse. The safety and recovery of the victim must be our focus and ultimate priority."
Unfortunately, the reports of sexual abuse crimes at Penn State were "swept under the rug" and went unaddressed for years. It has been reported that several employees of Penn State became aware of the abuse and reported the incidents to management but law enforcement authorities were never contacted by the school. Apart from the Penn State cover-ups, it was recently reported by the LA Times that officials at Boy Scouts of America also failed to address reports of sexual abuse and even helped to conceal abuse.
Current California law requires that reports of suspected child abuse be made by mandated reporters to police departments, sheriff's department, or appropriate agency designated by the county to receive reports. While one would assume that nonprofit organizations, especially those that work with children, have our children's best interest at heart, experience has taught us that this is not always the case. Time and time again, we have heard of reports of nonprofits that conceal and/or foster sexual abuse. To prevent further lives from being damaged and to deter nonprofits from concealing reports, legislation is needed to clarify and improve current sexual abuse reporting requirements.
Legislation is expected to be introduced in the next few days. Details of legislation to follow.