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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

School Administrators Partially Vindicated

A judge dismissed child abuse charges against two California administrators, although they both still face charges of failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors had charged the administrators with both failure to report suspected abuse and child abuse. It appears that they didn’t charge the administrators with actually abusing the children, but with the statute covering any person “having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered.”

The prosecutors’ logic apparently was that if the administrators had reported the first complaint they received of a student’s assaulting other students, then they could have avoided the subsequent two assaults. According to the reporter’s summation of the prosecutor’s motion, the prosecutors argued, “If a call had been made to the boy’s parents after the first incident was reported, they could have intervened with their son to prevent the sexual assaults involving the second and third victims.”

I’m not surprised that the judge dismissed the child abuse charges based on this logic. However, the failure to report charges seem to be stronger. The administrators received the complaints, but wanted written statements that the victims refused to provide. In most jurisdictions, an internal investigation definitely is not grounds to avoid a mandated report. We always advise clients to report, and then conduct a parallel investigation if they wish to do so.  

Once again, the administrators may be vindicated in court, but they will face trouble and attorneys’ fees in the interim.  The safer course of action is to report any suspicions and let the authorities do whatever investigation they deem appropriate.

Judge Corey Lee on Friday considered motions to dismiss all charges filed by Visco and Harris-Dawson’s attorneys, Chris Gardner and Michael Scafiddi. She concluded that prosecutors failed to provide evidence supporting either felony or misdemeanor child abuse charges against both defendants, Gardner said in a telephone interview.


mandated reporter, ausburn_deborah, youth services law, insights