The head of Widener Law School will lead a review of the state’s policies and procedures concerning child abuse, to determine if changes need to be made.
Following sexual abuse charges against a downstate pediatrician, Governor Jack Markell launched an independent review of the state’s laws and policies that are in place to protect children, in order to identify how the state can prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“Like most parents, I was and remain horrified by the allegations of consistent sexual abuse of children in Sussex County by their pediatrician,” said Markell. “These crimes can never be forgiven, and they’ll never be forgotten.” Markell says it’s the system failed the children, and now he’s launched an investigation to figure out why. “Given the number of conflicting reports that have emerged around this case, it’s clear that we would benefit from an independent review to learn exactly how and why.”
Markell’s named Widener Law School Dean Linda Ammons to lead the review team. Ammons says she hopes to have a report ready for the governor and the General Assembly before this year’s session ends on June 30. “If indeed, we discover that there are some laws that need changing or adding or whatever the case might be, the legislative branch will have the opportunity to react.” Ammons says her first mission will be to master the facts of the Bradley case in Lewes, and then examine what policies or procedures could have been in place to prevent that abuse.
Markell says the review will focus on six specific areas:
-Professional reporting requirements for suspected incidents of misconduct
-Professional licensing requirements, procedures and enforcement, including comprehensive background checks and procedures for ongoing review
-Medical standards and protocols around proper pediatric care, and the publication thereof, to ensure that doctors, medical staff, and parents have clear guidance
-Sufficiency of outreach efforts regarding reporting requirements so that those with legal obligations to report questionable behavior do so
-Proper communication and coordination between law enforcement agencies, professional regulators and the medical community
-Ensuring that adequate services are provided for the protection and treatment of children suspected of being sexually abused and exploited in order protect them from further harm.