2005 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Human Services; Judiciary B
By: Representative Wells-Smith
AN ACT TO CODIFY SECTION 41-57-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS OF THE STATE BOARD OF HEALTH TO NOTIFY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS WHEN IT APPEARS THAT A MINOR BELOW THE AGE OF CONSENT HAS CONCEIVED A CHILD AS THE RESULT OF STATUTORY RAPE OR SEXUAL BATTERY; TO PROVIDE A DUTY TO REPORT SUCH FACTS ON LICENSED EDUCATIONAL PERSONNEL; TO REQUIRE A WRITTEN RESPONSE FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY IF HE DECLINES TO PROSECUTE THE CASE; TO AUTHORIZE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROSECUTE THE CASE IN SUCH INSTANCES; TO PROVIDE FOR IMMUNITY FOR MAKING SUCH REPORTS; TO PROVIDE CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO REPORT SUCH CASES TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OR THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following section shall be codified as Section 41-57-17, Mississippi Code of 1972:
41-57-17. (1) Upon receiving any information or report indicating that a female under the age of fourteen (14) years has had sexual relations with or conceived or given birth to a child, alive or stillborn, conceived by relations with a male of any age who is two (2) or more years (twenty-four (24) or more months) older than the female, or that a female who is at least fourteen (14) years of age but under the age of sixteen (16) years has had sexual relations with or conceived or given birth to a child, alive or stillborn, conceived by relations with a male not her husband, who is at least seventeen (17) years old and is thirty-six (36) or more months older than the female, the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State Board of Health, and each county health officer, county medical examiner, county medical examiner investigator, coroner and principal of a primary or secondary school shall immediately notify in writing the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction the sexual offense is believed to have occurred and shall notify the district attorney having jurisdiction within forty-eight (48) hours with a written request that such violation be prosecuted. Such conduct with a minor below the age of capacity to make informed consent constitutes a felony under either Section 97-3-65 prohibiting statutory rape or Section 97-3-95 prohibiting sexual battery. The bureau shall have the duty to provide the law enforcement agency the names of the minor child, her parent(s) or other person responsible for her care, and the alleged perpetrator, together with ages, places, addresses, any witnesses and the nature of other evidence known at the time of the report, and the name and address of the institution or individual that submitted the information or report to the bureau; this duty shall be of a continuing nature. The law enforcement agency shall investigate the reported molestation and shall file a preliminary report with the district attorney's office within two (2) weeks of receiving the first notice.
(2) Any teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse, or other school employee who has knowledge or reason to believe that such a crime has occurred as described above, shall report such knowledge or information to the principal of the school in which the female is enrolled as a student.
(3) The duty to report is the same upon learning that a male under the age of fourteen (14) years has been sexually molested by a person who is two (2) or more years (twenty-four (24) or more months) older than he is, or that a male who is at least fourteen (14) years of age but under the age of sixteen (16) years has been sexually molested by a person who is at least seventeen (17) years old and is thirty-six (36) or more months older than he is.
(4) If a district attorney declines to prosecute a sexual molestation offense referred to his office by (a) the bureau, (b) the county health officer, (c) medical examiner, or (d) principal, said prosecutor shall respond in writing to the bureau, county health officer, medical examiner, coroner or principal, as the case may be, within sixty (60) days following receipt of the request to prosecute and shall state the reasons for declining to prosecute. If the bureau, medical examiner, county health officer or principal, after reviewing a district attorney's declination to prosecute, disagrees with the decision of such district attorney, the official may then refer the request for criminal prosecution to the Attorney General. In conducting any such prosecution, the Attorney General shall have all powers of a district attorney, including the power to issue or cause to be issued subpoenas or other process, and the right to enter the grand jury room while the grand jury is in session and to perform services with reference to the work of the grand jury.
(5) Anyone who withholds from a law enforcement agency or prosecutor's office information of the kind required by this section to be reported, shall be, upon being found guilty, punished by a fine in a sum not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in jail not to exceed one (1) year, or both.
(6) Any superintendent, principal, teacher or other school personnel participating in the making of a required report pursuant to this section shall be presumed to be acting in good faith. Any person reporting in good faith shall be immune from any civil liability that might otherwise be insured or imposed.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.