Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect - Ohio

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The Requirement for Clergy to Report 

Citation: Rev. Code § 2151.421

No cleric and no person, other than a volunteer, designated by any church, religious society, or faith acting as a leader, official, or delegate on behalf of the church, religious society, or faith who is acting in an official or professional capacity who knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, that a child under age 18 or a person under age 21 with a developmental disability or physical impairment has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child, and who knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, that another cleric or another person, other than a volunteer, designated by a church, religious society, or faith acting as a leader, official, or delegate on behalf of the church, religious society, or faith caused or poses the threat of causing the wound, injury, disability, or condition that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect shall fail to immediately report that knowledge or reasonable cause to believe to the entity or persons specified in this division. 

Privileged Communications

Citation: Rev. Code § 2151.421

A cleric is not required to make a report concerning any communication the cleric receives from a penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship if, in accordance with § 2317.02(C), the cleric could not testify with respect to that communication in a civil or criminal proceeding.

The penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship is deemed to have waived any testimonial privilege with respect to any communication the cleric receives from the penitent in that cleric-penitent relationship, and the cleric shall make a report with respect to that communication if all the following apply:

  • The penitent, at the time of the communication, is either a child under age 18 or a person under age 21 with a developmental disability or physical impairment.
  • The cleric knows or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, as a result of the communication or any observations made during that communication, the penitent has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the penitent.
  • The abuse or neglect does not arise out of the penitent's attempt to have an abortion performed upon a child under age 18 or upon a person under age 21 with a developmental disability or physical impairment without the notification of their parents, guardian, or custodian in accordance with § 2151.85.

The above sections do not apply in a cleric-penitent relationship when the disclosure of any communication the cleric receives from the penitent is in violation of the sacred trust.