What is a Mandatory Reporter?
In Michigan we have what are known as “Mandatory Reporters”. Michigan has designated certain professionals that are required to report to Child Protective Services (CPS) it he/she has a “reasonable cause to suspect” that Child Abuse, Criminal Sexual Conduct or Neglect have occurred.
In Michigan anyone can report suspected Child Abuse, Criminal Sexual Conduct or Neglect to the local Police Departments. If the accuser chooses not to report what he/she claims happened to him/her, the accuser is not REQUIRED to go to the police.
The state will often argue that there are several reasons why an accuser may not want to go to the police. For example, the accuser does not feel comfortable talking to the police, the accuser wants the issues addressed but not by getting the accused “in trouble” or the accuser may be scared. The defense’s position is that the accuser didn’t go to the police because the accuser made up a story and has a motive to lie.
If the accuser chooses not to report the allegations to the police department, but instead talks to a professional (examples listed below) about the allegations of sex abuse and or child abuse, there are certain professionals that are REQUIRED, under an obligation, to come forward with that information and give it directly to CPS.
Once CPS is involved, CPS forwards the information to the proper police department in which the allegations allegedly occurred. That police department will then begin their own investigation.
An adult, sibling, friend, etc. who suspects a person of legal age is engaging in sexual relations with a minor, may at any time report the activity to the police. A report made in this manner may eventually involve CPS and/or a criminal investigation by the police department. Once the police are notified whether it be by a Mandatory Reporter or a lay person, oftentimes that information is enough to begin an investigation.
EXAMPLES OF MANDATORY REPORTERS:
There is a very long list of Mandatory Reporters, the most common ones we see when it comes to Criminal Sexual Conduct allegations are:
- Doctor – Nurses – Medical Examiners
- Licensed Emergency Medical Care Providers
- Therapist – Licensed Professional Counselors
- Marriage and Family therapists
- Social Workers
- School Administrators – Teachers – Counselors
- Regulated Child Care and Foster Care Providers
- Clergy members
It is very common for criminal investigations to begin based on a report made by a Mandated Reporter.
BLANK LAW, PC EXAMPLES:
DIFFERENT MANDATORY REPORTERS
A minor confided in her therapist that she had been sexually active with someone over the age of 15. The therapist had an obligation, as a Mandated Reporter, to report that incident to CPS. CPS then forwarded the information to the local CAC (Child Advocacy Center), the local police department and the local prosecutor’s office (which is not required). At that point the police began an investigation. Ultimately, even though the minor never meant to get our client in trouble, he was charged with First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.
Most people think that when talking to their therapist, that those conversations are confidential. For the most part they are. However, if a Mandated Reporter, in this case, a therapist/counselor, is informed of suspected Child Abuse, Criminal Sexual Conduct or Neglect or suspects Child Abuse, Criminal Sexual Conduct or Neglect that part of the therapy session is no longer confidential. A therapist is a Mandatory Reporter, therefore the conversation that gave rise to the therapist’s suspicion will be disclosed to the police department.
Force or coercion for Criminal Sexual Conduct involving unethical or unacceptable medical treatment includes healthcare beyond that practiced by medical doctors, such as, Psychotherapy by a psychologist.
A minor confided in her best friend that she had sexual relations with a 19 year old male. The minor’s friend ended up telling the Assistant Principal of their school what the minor told her. The Assistant Principal is a mandatory reporter and therefore required to alert the police department.