California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal has ruled that summer camps, as daycare providers, have a duty to minors and their parents to disclose suspected molestation by camp employees, a duty beyond simply caring for the campers.
The case arose after parents brought suit against Keith Edward Woodhouse and his employer, Camp on the Hill, a summer camp for first through sixth graders run by the First Baptist Church of San Jose. Woodhouse had been repeatedly reported for inappropriate behavior with children, yet parents were never informed as the camp elected to turn their backs on the issue.
Special Relationship Triggers Duty
As with previous decisions in California, the Appeals Court decided, as a day care provider, acting in loco parentis, it had a special relationship which imposed a duty to prevent harm to the minors attending the camp and the general duty to act reasonably. The California Supreme Court had previously found that therapists have a duty to third parties endangered by their clients to disclose credible threats against those third parties. State appellate courts have found a special relationship between a school district, a student and her mother, imposing a duty to disclose molestation by another student.