Governor Bobby Jindal signed legislation today that will require eyewitnesses of sexual abuse to report the abuse to authorities and will toughen penalties for other mandatory reporters of abuse who fail to report. The legislation -- HB 577 by Representative Joseph Lopinto -- is part of the Governor's 2012 legislative package.
Governor Jindal said, "We have a moral duty to protect our children. This new law will ensure that suspected cases of abuse are reported to the proper authorities and will punish those who fail to report these monstrous acts."
Specifically, this new law does three things. First, the new law penalizes any adult eyewitness to sexual abuse who fails to report to authorities. The failure to report would be a felony, with imprisonment up to five years and/or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars.
Second, the new law makes failing to report by mandatory reporters when sexual abuse or severe physical abuse has occurred a felony, with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to three thousand dollars. Currently, the maximum penalty is six months in parish jail.
Third, the new law expands the mandatory reporter provisions for child abuse to include higher education officials and youth activity providers. Additional enumerated mandatory reporters would include professors, coaches, technical instructors, university administrators, youth camp counselors, summer camp workers, and school bus drivers.