Bill would protect child-abuse reporters

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Amador town hall Saturday

With the 2018 Idaho legislative session now underway District 4 State Rep, Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, will host a town hall forum with constituents in Coeur d’Alene this Satuday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene Fire Station No. 3, located at 1500 N. 15th St.

“Anytime I can get back up to Coeur d’Alene during the legislative session it is very important to me to take time to visit with constituents and hear their concerns about what is happening in Idaho,” said Amador. “A representative government requires an engaged citizenry, I look forward to hearing from constituents on how we can help build a better future for Idaho.”

Amador will discuss some of the major issues the Legislature is currently working on in Boise as well as provide an update on some of the issues he is personally working on this session. Constituents will also have the opportunity to ask questions and provide thoughts on any issues of importance.

Constituents unable to attend are encouraged to contact their lawmakers by email at www.legislature.idaho.gov.

People often know about horrific child abuse but sometimes don’t report it to the authorities despite the law requiring them to do so.

Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, hopes to change that with legislation designed to help protect the identity of the accuser.

“It is not uncommon for an individual to witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, but not report this abuse or neglect for many reasons,” said Amador, who is sponsoring the bill. “Such as fear of their name being included in the police report or retaliation by the accused, intimidation by the abuser, or self-doubt about if what they saw qualifies as abuse. It is essential to remove every obstacle that would impede reporting, as delays in reporting can result in more severe cases and more harm to the child victim.”

Current Idaho law is inconsistent in protecting the identity of the reporting party of child abuse. If abuse is reported to the Department of Health and Welfare, the identity of the reporter can remain anonymous; those reporting to law enforcement have no right or expectation to privacy.

“The CARE Act will remedy this inconsistency in Idaho law and will encourage more individuals to report suspected cases of child abuse and negligence,” said Amador. “If the CARE Act spares one child from the continued horrors of abuse or neglect, it will be a win for all of Idaho.”

Amador introduced the Child Abuse Reporting Protection (CARE) Act on Monday. The bill aims to provide legal protections for individuals reporting child abuse to law enforcement agencies in Idaho. It will likely receive a full hearing by the House Judiciary Rules and Administration committee within the next two weeks.

The bill provides protection of a person’s identity during the initial investigation process by law enforcement. The name of the reporting party would be redacted from the police report when made public. The investigating agencies would still have access to all information. As such, the legislation does not jeopardize the initial investigation or subsequent judicial process.

Amador said his proposed amendment to Idaho code would provide protection for all citizens who report possible abuse, neglect or abandonment, while still maintaining the accused’s constitutional rights “to be able to confront with the witnesses against him” during judicial proceedings.

The legislation is supported by the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, Idaho CASA (Court Appointment Special Advocate) Association, Family Advocates of Idaho, the Idaho Health Districts, Panhandle Health District, and the First Judicial District CASA Program.

“My experience with 10 years at CASA, first as a child victim advocate and now as the CEO, is that during our case investigations we usually find someone suspected the child abuse but did not report it,” said KJ Brant, CEO of North Idaho CASA, who supports the bill. “It is a citizen’s responsibility to report child endangered, even when in doubt, and let law enforcement and other professionals make the determination. When reporting doesn’t happen, a child continues to suffer.”

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