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Sexual assault case leads to investigation of school officials

A sexual assault case in Ohio recently gained significant media attention following the conviction of two teenage athletes who were charged with participating in the rape of a female student. The media attention largely was generated by allegations that school officials failed to disclose the allegations to the police in an effort to protect the student athletes. There was speculation that although the two teenage athletes were found guilty by a jury, the school officials did not believe the victim who presumably was interviewed by school personnel.

Under Michigan law, certain persons are required to report allegations of criminal behavior toward minors even if they do not personally believe the allegations. These persons include school administrators, teachers, psychologists, social workers, and counselors, who are made aware of the allegations while performing their professional functions. The reporting requirement requires the official to advise the police and/or Protective Services of the minor's allegations. It would appear that the requirement is predicated on the notion that those who are better able to investigate such allegations, namely police and Protective Services workers, are likely more able to discern the truthfulness of an allegation given the tools at their disposal, than the reporting person themselves. Under Michigan law, it is a crime for a professional to fail to timely report the allegations. Professionals, such as those in the state of Ohio, who fail to report allegations of criminal behavior toward minors, should consult an experienced defense attorney to assist them.

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