Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, has filed Senate Bill 1312. The measure makes it a crime if a person witnesses the sexual assault of child but fails to report the incident to police.
“In Oklahoma, if you witness a child being molested, you are required to report it to the Department of Human Services,” Marlatt said. “That simply isn’t enough. Until the perpetrator is arrested, there’s nothing to stop him from abusing that child or seeking out other victims. My legislation would require the person witnessing such a crime to call the police or local sheriff.”
Studies indicate that as many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood, although most experts agree that the great majority of child sexual assaults are never reported. The emotional scars from child sexual abuse can last a lifetime.
“There have been too many stories in the media about institutions being more interested in protecting their reputation at all costs—even if it means turning a blind eye to something as terrible as the sexual abuse of children,” Marlatt said. “I cannot imagine someone failing to come to the aid of a child in such a circumstance—but if that happens, my bill would make sure the adult who witnesses the crime and fails to act is held accountable.”
Marlatt’s legislation will be considered when the 2012 session convenes in February.