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In Child Abuse Matters, North Carolina Court of Appeals Considers the Responsible Individuals List

As reported by the Jacksonville Daily News (Judges Say Abuse List Challenge Not Good Enough), last week, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the state’s procedures in place for a person to challenge their addition to the “Responsible Individuals List” violates the state constitution by denying due process rights. In the future, those suspected by social services of child abuse must have the chance to defend themselves before they are placed on the list.

The Responsible Individuals List is kept by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which can provide information from the list to day care centers, adult care homes, or adoption agencies in order to evaluate whether a person is fit to be an adoptive parent or child card provider. The list is also designed to be a complement to other information, such as background checks, although it is not available to the public. Now, an individual under consideration for placement on the list must be given notice and an opportunity to be heard before being placed on the list.

The case at issue, In the Matter of: W.B.M, involved a man who was placed on the list after his county department of social services determined that sexual abuse allegations against him were verified. He challenged the constitutionality of the list after he discovered that he was placed on it. He has been on the list for three years, although he denies abusing his child and has never been charged with a crime. The case could potentially be appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.