The woman, a South Dakotan identified as “Vickie” to protect her identity, called police in 2006 after being assaulted by her then-husband. She was also interviewed by a social worker. Shortly thereafter, an official notice was sent to the couple’s home that, because their children had witnessed the abuse, the father was being placed on the state’s official registry of child abusers. A judge gave Vickie a protective order, and the couple later divorced. Now, nearly four years later, Vickie was recently fired from her job at a daycare center after her employer learned that she is also listed on the state’s child abuse registry – apparently through an error by the county.
According to attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute, being unjustly listed as a child abuser can happen more easily and be more difficult to contest than most people might realize. “It’s a nightmare,” noted Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel for Pacific Justice Institute. “In California and many other states, you don’t have to be convicted or even charged with a crime in order to be officially labeled by the state for life as a child abuser. That label turns up in background checks and ruins the lives of innocent people who lose their jobs or cannot find work.”
This week, PJI filed an amicus brief in the case of a man who was unjustly listed on California’s Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). More than 800,000 people are listed on the CACI, and courts have previously questioned whether as many as half of them are being listed with little or no supporting evidence. Listings on state child abuse registries turn up on background checks and tend to prevent applicants from getting any jobs involving interaction with children.
PJI attorneys will be sending a letter to South Dakota officials demanding that Vickie’s name be removed from the child abuse registry.