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Washington Child Molestation Laws

Sex Offender Registry

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Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Washington Revised Code § 26.44.030 sets forth a long list of professionals who are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect (including sexual abuse) to authorities. The list includes law enforcement officers, school personnel, medical care professionals, licensed or certified child care providers and their employees, juvenile probation officers, and any adult with whom a child resides.

In addition, any person who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect may make a report.

Reports must be made within 48 hours. Failure to report may result in a misdemeanor or other penalties.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Washington Rev. Code § 26.44.020 provides that ‘abuse or neglect’ means the injury of a child by any person under circumstances that cause harm to the child’s health, welfare, or safety, or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child. An abused child is a child who has been subjected to child abuse or neglect.

‘Severe abuse’ means any of the following:

  • Any single act of abuse that causes physical trauma of sufficient severity that, if left untreated, could cause death
  • Any single act of sexual abuse that causes significant bleeding, deep bruising, or significant external or internal swelling
  • More than one act of physical abuse, each of which causes bleeding, deep bruising, significant external or internal swelling, bone fracture, or unconsciousness

The term ‘abuse or neglect’ includes the sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child by any person under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health, welfare, and safety are harmed.

‘Sexual exploitation’ includes:

  • Allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution by any person
  • Allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in the obscene or pornographic photographing, filming, or depicting of a child by any person