Some Utah lawmakers trying to get rid of clergy exeption in state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law

Aug 12, 2022, 3:56 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm

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Phil Lyman, pictured above, says he plans to introduce legislation that would require all clergy to report child abuse to authorities.(Photo courtesy of Deseret News)

(Photo courtesy of Deseret News)

Salt Lake City, UT — Utah’s mandatory child abuse reporting law has an exemption that doesn’t require clergy to report it. Some state lawmakers want to remove that exemption.

“When the stakes are as high as they are in terms of abuse, we just don’t need the ambiguity,” said Blanding Rep. Phil Lyman.

Lyman said the discussion to do this has been in place well before a recent AP article was released, alleging there was a case of failed reporting of child abuse within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Lyman said he understands the the flip side of this coin where the process of confession allows someone to “unburden themself” but not be turned into authorites.

Lyman said he values that process but wants a line drawn when it comes to child abuse.

“I think we cross the line with criminal activity and when there’s a victim involved,” he said.

Mandatory reporting could also be seen as a deterrent to abusers confessing, allowing child abuse to continue.

“I think the benefits of the clarity outweigh that scenario,” Lyman said.

Democratic Rep. Angela Romero ran this bill two years ago. She also says she’s planning to run it again.

According to Lyman, the two have talked and he says he’s planning to defer to Romero, or anyone else, if he feels like the bill can get passed.

“This isn’t about getting credit,” he said. “If someone else is willing to do it and I feel like they’ve got a better path, I’d certainly step aside.”

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints told KSL Newsradio they did not have a statement as this proposal was just offered today.

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Some Utah lawmakers trying to get rid of clergy exeption in state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law