WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) — A bill that requires religious leaders to report suspected child abuse or neglect is now before Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature.
The Winchester Star reports both the House and Senate have approved the bill, which requires ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and other religious leaders to report suspected abuse to law enforcement.
Church leaders who know of or suspect child abuse now are exempt from a law that requires it to be reported. Other professionals, including health-care workers, teachers and law enforcement personnel, are required to report.
Republican Sen. Jill Vogel says she’s “relieved and grateful” that religious institutions supported the bill, which Vogel sponsored.
The bill includes exemptions for information that a church’s doctrine requires be kept confidential, such as what a priest hears in confession.