Tennessee Child Molestation Laws

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Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Tennessee Ann. Code §§ 37-1-403; 37-1-605 set forth a list of professionals who are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect (including sexual abuse) to authorities. These professionals include medical and mental health care professionals, school employees, social workers, practitioners who rely solely on spiritual means for healing, judges and law enforcement officers, neighbors, relatives, and friends.

In addition, any person who has knowledge that a child has been harmed by abuse or neglect must make a report to authorities.

Reports must be made immediately. Failure to report may result in a misdemeanor or other penalties.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Tennessee Ann. Code § 37-1-602 provides that ‘child sexual abuse’ means the commission of any act involving the unlawful sexual abuse, molestation, fondling, or carnal knowledge of a child under age 13 that, on or after November 1, 1989, constituted the criminal offense of:

  • Aggravated rape, sexual battery, or sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Criminal attempt for any of the offenses listed above
  • Especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Incest
  • Rape, sexual battery, or sexual exploitation of a minor

The term ‘child sexual abuse’ also means one or more of the following acts:

  • Any penetration, however slight, of the vagina or anal opening of one person by the penis of another person, whether or not there is the emission of semen
  • Any contact between the genitals or anal opening of one person and the mouth or tongue of another person
  • Any intrusion by one person into the genitals or anal opening of another person, including the use of any object for this purpose
  • Intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts, including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of either the child or the perpetrator
  • Intentional exposure of the perpetrator’s genitals in the presence of a child, or any other sexual act intentionally perpetrated in the presence of a child, if such exposure or sexual act is for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, aggression, degradation, or other similar purpose
  • Sexual exploitation of a child, which includes allowing, encouraging, or forcing a child to solicit for or engage in prostitution or engage in sexual exploitation