A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the "priest-penitent" privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases.

House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn't, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.

"We’re not attacking their religion. We’re looking to protect children from being harmed," Rep. Romero said Tuesday.

FOX 13 first reported on Rep. Romero's proposed legislation back in July. It has garnered the support of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Currently, Utah law allows some confessions to clergy to remain protected or "privileged" communications.

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant