In Washington, clergy — unlike teachers, physicians, and law enforcement — are not listed as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. In 1975, Washington lawmakers removed clergy members from its mandatory reporter list leaving the state with one of the nation’s weakest mandatory reporter laws as it applies to clergy.
Last month, InvestigateWest examined multiple lawsuits claiming that Jehovah’s Witnesses elders in Washington knew of sexual abuse allegations but did not alert law enforcement, resulting in more children being abused.
“If elders had been required by law to report to authorities, other children may not have been abused.”
Learn more about clergy-penitent privilege, mandatory reporting, and the Watchtower’s process for reports of sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses community in “How Washington State Law Lets Clergy Hide Child Sexual Abuse“.