Pennsylvania's ChildLine Abuse Registry publicly displays the names of accused individuals before they have been convicted of the crime or had a chance to defend themselves in court. According to an article from MSN, the Registry only requires that there has been enough credible evidence of abuse or neglect to trigger an investigation. It does not require verification of the allegations first. Appearing on this list could cause people to lose their homes, their jobs, and more, without ever having a chance at defense.
Now, parents, families, childcare providers, and community members have filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court claiming that ChildLine is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs are calling on the court to protect the merely accused by putting a stop to the registration of individuals who have not yet been convicted of any abuse crimes. They contend that publishing the names of the accused on the ChildLine Registry alongside the convicted is tantamount to a conviction in the court of public opinion, a violation of the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
Impacts of Abuse Allegations
Conviction for child abuse can lead to fines, jail time, and damage to a person's reputation and future employment opportunities. Sometimes, something as small as a missed pediatrician appointment or scratches from an accident can be reported as child abuse. Such reports are often the result of a misunderstanding that stems from genuine concern. Even so, the accused will need to act quickly to refute the allegation: the best course is to cooperate with the investigation, and contact an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the process and have your name removed from the ChildLine Abuse Registry as quickly as possible.
Protecting children is always the number one priority, but no one is protected when citizens are harmed due to unfounded claims against them. Children deserve a strong family and parents and guardians who will care for them with focus, energy, and the freedom to make the right decisions for their well-being—something that is not possible when a parent faces repercussions that could cause the loss of job and more.
Protecting Due Process
Plaintiffs in the ChildLine suit insist that removing the names of people accused of child abuse from the Registry will not interfere with the investigative work of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services. According to one person involved in the case, the goal of the lawsuit is to protect the due process rights of the accused; it's a “common sense proposition that before someone is identified as a child abuser, they should have the opportunity to be heard, and to clear their name,” they said.
What to Do if You Are Accused of Child Abuse
If you've been accused of child abuse, you have the right to representation and an expert defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help you to claim your rights and ensure that those rights are being protected. Contact the Lento Law Firm today. You can schedule a consultation online or by call 888-535-3686.