A Scary New Legal Responsibility Has Arisen

We wake up this morning to find that a person who is not the witness to a crime, but merely the recipient of third hand information that a crime may have been committed now may have a duty to call the police and report it.

If you strip away all the horrific facts surrounding the allegations of child abuse and the people who are involved in the Penn State debacle, that is what the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University said today as they found Joe Paterno culpable for not immediately reporting to the police, not the campus police or his direct supervisors within the Athletic Department.

This means that if someone sides up to you and says that a third person may have committed a crime, you are now obliged to report it to the government.

Think about it.

The Stasi of East Germany could not have developed a better system.

By philc44

4 comments on “A Scary New Legal Responsibility Has Arisen

  1. 51-A–“a report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reasons to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. Another standard frequently used is when the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child. Permissive reporters follow the same standards when electing to make a report.”

  2. Hi Quill,

    I am not familiar with 51-A, so please excuse my ignorance. However, does that duty extend to a recipient of third hand information? My point is that are we seeing a corporate or otherwise duty to report to the police third hand information?

    I do not believe that the Penn State Board of Trustee’s decision was predicated on any legal duty to report.

    I am afraid that we are on a very slippery slope as we attorneys are found of saying.

  3. 51-A forms and child abuse laws pertaining to academic settings mandate that a teacher of any form must report to the police any allegation of child abuse so that it may be looked into.

    I do feel for Joe Paterno, and understand the position he must have been in. But as far as I can tell, it is hardly a situation of the general public being obligated to report to the police in the manner of which you speak.

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