For years, California law required psychotherapists to report any patient who admitted developing, duplicating, printing or exchanging material depicting an obscene act involving a child.

The therapists accepted that requirement. They regarded it as an obligation to report producers and distributors of child pornography.

But when the Legislature amended the law in 2014 to reflect new technology, many therapists balked, complaining the new wording required them to inform on patients who posed no threat to others.

The amendment requires therapists to tell police of patients who have admitted streaming or downloading sexually explicit material involving minors.

That means that the crime of looking at child porn online must be reported. Failure to report may result in a criminal fine against the therapist and revocation of his or her license.

The California Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive a challenge to the law brought by therapists who treat people for sexual compulsions. Instead of helping children, the therapists argue, the new reporting requirement will discourage people from seeking help for porn addictions and other sexual proclivities.

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