mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting statute

Providence elementary school principal Violet LeMar is appealing the guilty verdict handed down Monday for failing to report allegations of sexual assault at her school. LeMar is the first educator to be found guilty under a new state reporting law.

The new law was adopted in 2016, and requires educators to notify DCYF within 24 hours of abuse allegations at schools. LeMar, principal at Harry Kizirian elementary school in Providence, was accused of initiating an internal investigation when allegations of abuse of students by a gym teacher came to light.

Chris Potter

Cranston High School West Psychologist George Blessing was found not guilty Wednesday in a bench trial on the misdemeanor charge of failing to report allegations of “sexual abuse of a child in an educational program” to child welfare authorities. Blessing is the first person to face charges under Rhode Island’s newly amended child abuse reporting law.  

Chris Potter / CC BY 2.0 VIA FLICKR

George Blessing, a staff psychologist at Cranston High School West, is accused of failing to report allegations to child welfare authorities of, “sexual abuse of a child in an educational program.” Blessing is the first person to face charges under Rhode Island’s newly amended child abuse reporting law. A hearing on a motion to dismiss the trial, as well as the potential start of the trial itself had to be postponed, after the prosecutor from the Attorney General's office fell ill. The trial has been rescheduled for early January.

Elisabeth Harrison

House lawmakers have scheduled a committee hearing Wednesday on a bill that would add schools to Rhode Island’s mandatory child abuse reporting law.

The bill was filed in response to a sexual abuse scandal at St. George’s School in Middletown, after it became clear the school had failed to report numerous allegations of sexual abuse. The incidents span several decades and involve several former faculty members and one current employee.

Elisabeth Harrison

In the aftermath of the sex abuse scandal at St. George's School, Rhode Island lawmakers are considering legislation that would close a loophole in the state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law.

The loophole, first reported by Rhode Island Public Radio, seems to allow schools and other institutions to avoid reporting abuse allegations against their employees.