Should clergy be mandated reporters? New York’s CARE Act says yes

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — If a member of the clergy suspects a child in the congregation has been abused, is the clergyperson legally required to report it?In New York state, the answer is no. But some advocates, clergy and lawmakers think that should change.
This issue is at the heart the Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act, a bill making its way through New York state Legislature that, if passed, would make clergy mandated reporters.
“CFCtoo is calling for CARE Act to be passed because we see it as a necessary first step toward making our communities and children safer,” said anti-abuse advocate Abbi Nye.
Nye is part of the advocacy group CFCtoo, a collective of former Christian Fellowship Center members. The CFC has five locations in New York’s North Country and has been described by some former members as insular. CFCtoo formed in June 2022 after congregation member Sean Ferguson was charged with having sexually abused his two young daughters in 2015. Church members later learned that leaders knew about the abuse years prior but did not report it to authorities or to the broader church community.
In October, CFCtoo held a press conference outside of the St. Lawrence County Courthouse to advocate for the CARE Act.
“We are aware of a number of cases, most recently with Sean Ferguson, where CFC pastors knew about abuse and did not report it. Because pastors do not report abuse, it allows abusers to keep on preying on vulnerable individuals,” Nye told Religion News Service. “Most sexual abusers have multiple …

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