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Liability for Positive References
Liability for Positive References
Churches can face liability for recommending former employees known for misconduct.

Doe v. McLean County Unit District, 2014 WL 6607487 (Ill. App. 2014)

Two female second grade students (the "victims") were sexually abused by their teacher ("Randy") at a public elementary school. The teacher was arrested and prosecuted on several counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The victims' parents (the "plaintiffs") sued the public school district where Randy had previously been employed, as well as a state education agency. The plaintiffs claimed that the former school district was legally responsible for Randy's abusive acts on the following grounds:

They willfully and wantonly and with deliberate indifference allowed Randy to be transferred to the school where he molested the victims without revealing knowledge of prior sexual abuse; and
They violated mandatory child abuse reporting requirements under state law.

In support of their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the previous school district in which Randy had been employed was aware as early as 2002 that he was using school computers for accessing child pornography, and had engaged in numerous incidents of inappropriate sexual contact with young children. But, district officials refused to report his conduct to the state, and transferred him to another school district without any disclosure of his previous wrongful acts. It was while teaching at a school in this district that Randy met the victims and molested them.

Child Abuse Reporting Law

The plaintiffs claimed that had the officials in Randy's former school district reported his incidents of abuse, the victims would not have been abused by him since he never would have been hired as a teacher in the school where he met them.

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