How Washington state law lets clergy hide child sexual abuse

By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest

Nearly 20 years ago, in the aftermath of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, former Washington state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson wanted to make sure child sexual abuse could not be hidden so easily by church leaders.

In Washington, clergy — unlike teachers, physicians and law enforcement — were not listed as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Dickerson, D-Seattle, introduced a bill that would have changed that.

“I really wanted to have a law that was as strong as possible that would require clergy to report abuse,” Dickerson tells InvestigateWest today. “And I was concerned about children.”

But each attempt failed. The

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