In the state of Texas, most professionals are required to make a report if they know that a child has been a victim of sexual abuse or neglect. They may also need to file a report if they have reason to believe that a child has been a victim of sexual abuse or is at risk of being harmed. A person who knowingly fails to do so could face a fine of up to $4,000, a jail term of up to a year or both.
If a professional tries to cover up the fact that a child has been abused or neglected, he or she could face a felony failing to report charge. The charge may also be upgraded to a felony if the victim had an intellectual disability and an individual knew that the victim was sexually abused or neglected.
Employers may not retaliate against those who make reports in good faith to their supervisor or to a state regulatory agency. Employers also cannot retaliate against those who make reports to law enforcement. Attorneys, clergy members and others who typically have to abide by confidentiality rules must comply with state reporting rules. Individuals who reveal that they have abused or neglected a child are not necessarily immune from civil or criminal penalties. Civil or criminal penalties may apply to those who act in bad faith when making such a report.
Individuals who wish to make sexual abuse claims may be able to do so without legal counsel. However, consulting with an attorney may help a person better understand his or her rights as it relates to doing so. Furthermore, legal counsel may be able to help gather and organize evidence of neglect or abuse that may be used during settlement talks or during a civil trial.