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Understanding the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act

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Illinois defense attorney, child neglect law, Illinois criminal lawyer,The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (“Act”) is an important but seldom referenced law that affects both criminal law and family law. Created in 1975, the potentially broad reach of this law was recently revealed in a child abuse case perpetrated by a Lake County, Illinois teacher. In this case, the teacher is accused of sexually abusing students. Though the teacher has fled the country, he was finally located in Bosnia, and is being held in custody while authorities attempt to extradite him back to the U.S. However, what has legal professionals in awe is the fact that three teachers who allegedly were told by students that the abuse was occurring are being accused of willfully and knowingly failing to report the abuse. They are being charged under the Act's requirement that teachers and other parties be considered “mandatory reporters” of acts of abuse and neglect committed against children.

The Illinois Abuse and Neglected Child Reporting Act

The Act has rarely been enforced in criminal courts, but now three Ingleside teachers are being charged for violating the Act's mandatory reporting requirement for certain professionals. Under the Act, mandated reporters include those in the fields of education, medicine, law enforcement, child care, clergy, social services, and mental health. As a result, teachers who know of any child abuse or neglect have a duty to report the acts and concerns to law enforcement. Since 1986, mandated reporters have been required to sign a statement that acknowledges their understanding of the Act. In 2013, the Act was amended to require that teachers complete mandate reporting training upon their initial employment as a teacher, and then again every five years. What has been unique about the current case is the fact that the Act is most often used to prosecute failure to report abuse in civil cases, yet the Act has rarely been used to charge teachers.

In the case at the Ingleside school, the abuse was revealed after a student reported that she had been abused by her teacher when she was under the age of 13. The accused teacher is being charged with criminal sexual assault and predatory criminal sexual assault, and there is a $1 million arrest warrant that has been issued. While two of the teachers turned themselves in to law enforcement, the third teacher remains at large. The state's attorney has stated that the most serious charge that will be imposed on the teachers who did not report will be a Class A misdemeanor. None of the teachers are currently employed by the school district. The charges against the non-reporting teachers were authorized based on interviews with the teachers, and prosecutors are now attempting to prohibit these teachers from having future contact with children.

The Act provides protections for a family's most vulnerable members, while also criminalizing the acts of those who remain silent, even when they are legally required to report child abuse and neglect. When you need legal representation in a family law or criminal law dispute you should contact the experienced  Joliet family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C.
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