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New Mexico attorney general sees loophole in child abuse law

January 23, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas called for approval of new legislation Monday that expands obligations under state law to report child abuse or negligence.

Balderas warned that current law creates an obligation to report abuse by parents, guardians and custodians of children but leaves out abuse by other people such as school personnel.

He endorsed a bill introduced by Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City and Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque that aims to close the loophole in the New Mexico Abuse and Neglect Act.

The bill would broaden state reporting obligations to cover abuse and neglect by almost anyone. Supporters urged GOP Gov. Susana Martinez to add the bill to the agenda for the current 30-day legislative session.

Balderas invoked as a cautionary tale the case of former teacher Gary Gregor, who has been charged with sexually abusing elementary school girls after concerns were raised in other states.

In 2015, a ruling issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court clarified provisions of a state statute that calls for “every person” to report abuse or neglect, not just by those whose occupations are spelled out by law.

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