Moore, 012521 SDAGO, AGO 21-01

Docket NºAGO 21-01
Case DateJanuary 25, 2021
CourtSouth Dakota
Mike Moore
AGO 21-01
Official Opinion No. 21-01
South Dakota Attorney General Opinion
Attorney Office of The South Dakota General
January 25, 2021
         Re: Anonymity of Sexual Assault Victims and Mandatory Reporting          Dear State’s Attorney Moore,          In your capacity as Beadle County State’s Attorney you have requested an official opinion from the Attorney General’s Office on the following question:
Can a sixteen-or-seventeen-year-old victim of sexual assault who undergoes a sexual assault examination remain anonymous under the provisions of SDCL ch. 23-5C, taking into account the mandatory reporting requirements of SDCL 26-8A-3?
No, a sixteen-or-seventeen-year-old sexual assault victim cannot remain anonymous. The health care professionals that treat or examine child-victims must report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, to law enforcement; the state’s attorney; or the Department of Social Services, regardless of the child-victim’s age and the perpetrator’s relationship to the child-victim.
         FACTS:          SDCL 23-5C-2 gives victims of sexual assault the option of reporting the sexual assault to the appropriate law enforcement entity. The statute also establishes that a health care facility may not require the reporting of the sexual assault to law enforcement in order for the victim to receive an examination or treatment for the sexual assault. SDCL 22-22-26.3 grants minor victims – age sixteen or older – the capacity to consent to a forensic medical examination due to an alleged sexual assault or sexual offense. SDCL 26-8A-3, however, mandates that a medical professional who reasonably suspects that a minor has been abused or neglected must report that information to the appropriate law enforcement entity. Abuse and neglect of a child is defined by SDCL 26-8A-2 to include sexual abuse, sexual molestation, or sexual exploitation of a minor; a child whose environment is injurious to their welfare; or a child that is threatened with substantial harm. You have become aware that certain health care systems in the state have advised their medical professional staff that a sixteen or seventeen-year-old who is the victim of sexual assault at the hands of their boyfriend or girlfriend may remain anonymous from law enforcement when receiving treatment for the sexual assault.          IN RE QUESTION:          BBecause the question deals with the interplay between various statutes, the principals of statutory construction must be applied.          In reviewing a statute, “‘the language expressed in the statute is the paramount consideration.’” Olson v. Butte County Commission, 2019 S.D. 13, ¶ 5, 925 N.W.2d 463, 464 (quoting Goetz v. State, 2001 S.D. 138, ¶ 5, 636 N.W.2d 675, 681).
When the language in a statute is clear, certain and unambiguous, there is no reason for construction, and the Court’s only function is to declare the meaning of the statute as clearly expressed. When we must, however, resort to statutory construction, the intent of the legislature is derived from the plain, ordinary and popular meaning of the statutory language.
In re Wintersteen Revocable Trust Agreement, 2018 S.D. 12, ¶ 12, 907 N.W.2d...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT