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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Negligent Selection

Volume 1 . Chapter 2 . § 2-01.6

In recent years many churches and denominational agencies have been sued because of the misconduct of clergy. Many cases have involved sexual misconduct. In most of these cases, liability is based on negligent selection. That is, the church or denominational agency failed to exercise reasonable care in the selection of the minister.

To illustrate, a church employs a new youth minister without any investigation into his background. Within a few months the minister is charged with child molestation. Only then do church leaders learn that the minister left his previous church because of similar misconduct. The church may be sued on the basis of negligent selection—it failed to exercise reasonable care in the selection of the minister. This ...

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