District Attorney Fitzpatrick: Failure to Report Sex Abuse Should Face Criminal Action

 In Blog

report sexual abuseA letter from District Attorney Fitzpatrick to Syracuse, stating that failure to report sex abuse should face criminal action while standing behind the Child Victims Act.

“I applaud your recent editorial detailing the sordid facts of systemic abuse and cover-ups of sexual crimes against children perpetrated by Catholic clergymen in the state of Pennsylvania and calling for passage of the Child Victims Act in New York (“Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse probe shows why NY law must change”). I hesitate in calling these predators “Catholic” as they have no more to do with the teachings of Christ than does an extremist who assassinates a doctor. However, the now irrefutable and oft repeated truth is that these unspeakable acts went on for decades, and the church was more concerned about its reputation than it was about the innocent victims. Myself and my 61 colleagues, the elected district attorneys of this state, support passage of the Child Victims Act, but we must do more.

How often must we see the scenario where a person in power discovers that a surrogate or an employee has abused a child, and instead of reporting these sickening crimes to law enforcement, he or she quietly terminates the offender, allows him to resign or, most insidiously, simply moves him to another setting where he is free to abuse again before we act. Any employer or any supervisor in any institution that is responsible for caring or mentoring of children, including religious institutions, schools or athletic groups, should be held criminally responsible for ignoring the victims and simply moving the known offender to another locale and pretending all is well. How much more pain and suffering do we have to endure before these people learn that the well-being of an innocent child is far more important than the reputations of some group?

Please join me in urging our local legislators to support passage of the Victims Empowerment Act, making it a C felony to knowingly fail to report abuse to law enforcement and simply moving that perpetrator to a different area where he offends again. As Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” While I would prefer the millstone, we at least demand that these vile enablers be sent to prison.”

William Fitzpatrick 
Onondaga County District Attorney

If you are a victim of sexual abuse or know of someone who failed to report sexual abuse, contact the sexual abuse attorneys at Alonso Krangle LLP. Let our legal experience help you navigate this difficult situation.