Assistant Principal Criminally Convicted After Waiting Four Hours to Report Child Abuse

By April 15, 2014 News No Comments

In Smith v. the State of Indiana, a high school principal was convicted for failing to comply with a mandatory reporting requirement after he waited four hours to report to the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) that a student told him she had been raped.

The sixteen-year-old student, G.G. informed the assistant principal at her high school that she had been raped by a fellow student, S.M., in a bathroom at the school. The assistant principal immediately reported this to Christopher Smith, the principal.

Smith directed the assistant principal to review security footage to identify the whereabouts of the two students, which took about one hour. He asked G.G to provide a handwritten statement of her allegation. Smith also contacted Youth Opportunity Center (“YOC”), where G.G. resided by court order. YOC sent an ambulance to take G.G. to the emergency room. Smith also questioned the alleged perpetrator, S.M., for fifteen to twenty minutes about the allegation, which he denied. Smith subsequently requested the assistance of the school’s security officers to search G.G.’s and S.M’s lockers; however, he did not indicate to the officers that that there had been an allegation of rape. Near the end of the day, after conducting interviews for an open administrative position, Smith finally contacted the superintendent who directed Smith to contact DCS. At no point though, did Smith or anyone from the district contact the police department.

The Indiana Supreme Court first found that the statutory requirement to “immediately” report child abuse conveys a strong sense of urgency to fulfill the duty to report. Therefore, four hours was not “immediate.” “Smith dawdled, delayed, and did seemingly everything he could to not contact DCS or the police.”

School district employees continue to be impacted by their duties as “mandatory” reporters under Illinois law. Please contact Nancy Krent or Michelle Todd with your mandatory reporting inquiries.  To read the full text of the Court’s opinion, click here: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/03271401SHD.pdf

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