Rep. McCoy introduces law to protect child sex abuse victims

Peter McCoy (Provided)

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Fighting to increase safety for victims of child sexual abuse, State Representative Peter McCoy (R, Charleston) has submitted legislation for pre-filing that would require anyone who has been given information of potential child sexual abuse to report to the authorities.

Current South Carolina law only requires certain professions, including teachers and medical professionals, to report.

"As a former prosecutor, I know that South Carolina must do all we can to protect our most innocent people," McCoy said. "In light of the tragedies affecting the alleged young victims at Penn State University and The Citadel and numerous new allegations across our state, it is imperative that anyone and everyone given information of child sexual abuse report. My legislation ensures every victim has the moral and legal support of his or her confidants."

If passed, McCoy's amendments to Section 63-7-310 will require that any "person in this State (who) has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected" to report to the Department of Social Services or local law enforcement. The legislation would not change the penalty of failing to report, which currently is a fine of "not more than five hundred dollars or imprison[ment] (of) not more than six months, or both."

McCoy, a former 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor, said the bill is critical in giving voices to those who may not have the courage to speak for themselves. "Unfortunately, I have had to fight for victims of such abuse as a prosecutor. The pain and fear the victims have, in many cases, is known by others who are simply unfamiliar with what to do. My legislation makes it very clear: if you know, you must report and give a potential victim the strength they need."

18 other states currently have Mandatory Child Sexual Abuse Reporting legislation.

Representative Peter McCoy serves in the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing James Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island. A former prosecutor in the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's office and current small business owner, Representative McCoy proudly serves South Carolina as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.