Tougher Guidelines for Clergy

WCAX [Montpelier, Vermont]
April 29, 2003

The Vermont Senate unanimously backed a plan to add clergy to a list of people who have to report child abuse and neglect. The legislation is the result of allegations of child sexual abuse involving some Catholic priests in Vermont.

Under current law a number professions including teachers and day care workers are required to report suspicions of child abuse to the state. The new bill now adds clergy to the list.

"We must especially look to our communities and to our spiritual leaders to assist all of us in ensuring that there is zero tolerance of any abuse of our children and those that are charged with the spiritual values of our lives not only be teachers of those values, but they do nothing to harm our children either directly or by omission," said Senator Jim Leddy, D-Chittenden Count.

There is one exception. Under the bill clergy would not be required to report information told to them in the confessional. The bill still needs to be passed by the House.

Kristin Carlson - Channel 3 News

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