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Dayton signs 'Jacob's law' child abuse bill

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Jacob's law signing
Gov. Mark Dayton signed "Jacob's law," which requires that both parents be notified if their child is a possible victim of abuse, neglect or sexual assault, into law at the State Capitol on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Wednesday that requires both parents be notified if their child is a possible victim of abuse, neglect or sexual assault. 

The law was suggested by Sarah Guggisberg of Clara City. Her son, Jacob, was abused by a neighbor. Police told Guggisberg's ex-husband, but she didn't learn of the abuse for another four years. 

Because the law didn't require the notification of both parents, Guggisberg said it could have prevented her from getting help for her son. 

"We dealt with some issues because of the pain of sexual abuse" Giggisberg said. "Very few children come forward into their adults lives and say 'I was abused.' And so when the abuse is known it should be taken seriously and taken all the way."

Under the law, parents will be required to notify each other of abuse involving their children, under the terms of their custody agreement.  The law also outlines provisions for notification when there is a protective order or a similar  prohibition against communication held by one parent against the other.

Guggisberg said she intends to lobby Congress to pass a similar law on the federal level.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that law enforcement officials would be required to notify parents in these cases. The current version is correct.