California Must Close Gap in Law on Reporting Sex Abuse

San Francisco Chronicle (2019)

3 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 9 Jul 2019

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

Stanford Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: June 22, 2019


The #MeToo movement has emphasized not only how rampant sexual abuse is, but also how frequently third parties disregard — or even enable — it. California is an epicenter of this movement with many of the highest-profile instances of both assault and bystanderism occurring here, particularly in Hollywood. In perhaps the most notorious case, at least 16 people admitted witnessing or knowing of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct but remaining silent; his behavior was infamous within both Miramax and the Weinstein Co., giants in the entertainment industry. Although California has a duty-to-report law for certain illegal activities, the statute does not require reporting sexual abuse, like Weinstein’s, committed against anyone older than 13 years of age. Recent events and an examination of other states’ laws compel modifying California’s statute to include older victims and permit both fewer and more exceptions in certain contexts.

Keywords: sexual violence, rape, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, criminal law, criminal procedure, Bad Samaritan laws, duty to report, state law, bystanders, upstanders, punishment, prevention, deterrence, incentives, metoo, California, Harvey Weinstein, Sherrice Iverson, Jason Strohmeyer, David Cash

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., California Must Close Gap in Law on Reporting Sex Abuse (June 22, 2019). San Francisco Chronicle (2019). Available at SSRN:

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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