STATEMENT OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY DENIS DILLON TO NASSAU COUNTY LEGISLATURE ON MANDATORY REPORTING OF ABUSE OF MINORS
The Legislature wants to pass a bill to make clergy mandatory reporters but the district attorney argues, fine, but let's expand it to include other professionals that have contact with children. Go read this now, Denis Dillon is great. In fact, I will put the whole thing here:
"I come before you today to publicly ask you, Ms. Jacobs, to allow the entire Legislature to debate and vote on the proposed amendment to Local Law 5-2002 requested by me as District Attorney and introduced by Minority Leader Peter Schmitt almost a year ago. To date, you have refused to even refer this proposal to Committee for discussion and a possible vote -- even though, if my information is correct, it has the support of a majority of the members of the legislature. If that is the case, your blocking debate and a vote by the people’s elected representatives is all that prevents this very necessary amendment from being enacted into law. What is it you fear?
The County’s current reporting law exclusively targets clergy: priests, rabbis, ministers, and muslim clergy. Statistical data, however, provide no evidence that abuse of minors is more prevalent among clergy than among other professions that deal with minors. Certainly, the experience of my office or just a glance at the daily headlines confirms that such abuse occurs among virtually all groups that work with young people: teachers and other school personnel, sports coaches, scout leaders, school bus drivers, camp counselors, even police officers.
Despite this, current reporting requirements in New York State law are limited only to suspected abuse by parents or guardians. This points up the glaring need to do more to protect all vulnerable youth against abuse by any adult -- not just a parent or clergyperson. This amendment would help to do so, by providing that all adults who in their professional capacities become aware of possible abuse of a minor by any adult must report it to an appropriate law enforcement agency. Why do you fear this?
In your letter to me of March 18, you characterized this proposal as "primarily" designed "to expand the list of mandated reporters to include ‘abortion providers.’" This is inaccurate. As I just made clear, my bill does not single out any one group. In opposing it, however, you have singled out one group for special protection. "This Democratic Majority unanimously supports a woman’s right to choose," you wrote to me last March; and any legislation, even that bearing on the reporting of sexual abuse of minors, must "comport with our expressed ideology on this issue."
My proposal, on the other hand, simply includes abortion providers among a list of more than 30 groups of professionals who must report information regarding sexual abuse of minors. And with good reason. I’ve seen shocking and deeply disturbing data regarding the sexual exploitation of teen and even pre-teen girls by adult males. According to one study, "among girls 15 and under who become pregnant, between 60 and 80 percent are impregnated by adult males!"
Under New York State law, this constitutes the crime of rape. One group of professionals in a unique position to learn of such crimes are abortion providers. It is therefore essential that they be included as required reporters, along with all the other professionals listed in this amendment.
Why do you fear this? Why protect rapists? Why do you refuse to protect all vulnerable children?
Rather than address these issues, you accused me of crossing "the line between [my] personal beliefs and upholding the law." You did not discuss whether you would assist me in "upholding the law" by seeing that all professionals with information about sexual abuse of minors be required to report it. Instead, in the words of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, you came dangerously close to suggesting that my Catholicism is getting in the way of my professional duties.
In fact, the changes I am proposing in the County law are designed precisely to assist me in fulfilling my professional duties. We need to broaden the reporting requirements to include not just clergy, but all adult professionals who work with minors, so that we may better protect all youngsters against abuse by any adults. And we also need to specify exactly what information must be reported, so that we can better enforce compliance with the statute, and more effectively investigate and prosecute those who prey on minors. This amendment would accomplish that goal as well. Why would you oppose such a bill? What do you fear? Why are you protecting sexual predators?
I implore you, Ms. Jacobs, to stop blocking this bill from coming to the floor for a vote. I urge you not to let your ideology on a single issue blind you to the urgent need to do all we can to protect our children from sexual exploitation and abuse. And I urge the Democratic members of this Legislature to do all you can to persuade your majority leader to allow you to deliberate and vote on this vital legislation.
Why would you oppose it? What do you fear? Why protect rapists? Why refuse to pass a law that would help protect vulnerable children?"