New bill would force clergy to report child abuse, neglect

Alabama priest who fled to Italy with teen he later married is expected to be defrocked

OLYMPIA, Wash — New legislation has passed the Senate that could turn clergy members into mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

Bill SB 6298 is sponsored by Senator Noel Frame and will now be sent to the House of Representatives.

Frame is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She said that the abuse only ended after she told a mandatory reporter.

“Mandatory reporters play an essential role in protecting children,” said Frame. “Too often, the cycle of violence and sexual abuse carries on for year after year, from generation to generation.”

In 2023, Frame introduced similar legislation which reportedly failed due to a disagreement over confessionals.

The new bill includes an exemption for confession to report, but it does require clergy to make a report when “they have reasonable cause to believe that a child is at imminent risk of being abused or neglected.”