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Missouri judge rules child abuse registry unconstitutional

[JURIST] A Missouri circuit court judge ruled Thursday that the state's child abuse registry is unconstitutional because it does not allow alleged abusers a due-process hearing before being placed on the list. The registry is not available to the general public, but child care facilities and other employers can use the list to screen current and potential employees. Judge Richard Callahan said the current process caused damage to suspected offenders' reputations and careers, and said these individuals are entitled to a hearing with witnesses before being put on the list. The judge also said that the hearings must use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard rather than "probable cause," which has already been changed by a 2004 law. The Missouri Department of Social Services [official website] said it is considering appealing the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court [official website] and Judge Callahan's ruling will not go into effect until the appeals process is complete. AP has more.

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