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Counselors and the Clergy-Penitent Privilege

After a minister disclaims a counseling relationship, further communications are not privileged.

• An Illinois appeals court ruled that statements made by a criminal defendant to a minister could not be protected by the "clergy-penitent" privilege if the minister informed the defendant that he would not be his counselor. A man was prosecuted for criminal sexual assault against his 11-year-old stepdaughter. The stepdaughter testified that her stepfather had sexual intercourse with her more than 100 times, on virtually every occasion when the child's mother "left the house." The child was so traumatized that she attempted suicide. The stepfather was found guilty and sentenced to 28 years in a state penitentiary. At the trial, the prosecution relied in part on the testimony of a minister. The minister testified that the stepfather had contacted him three times by telephone, seeking counsel and advice. The minister told the stepfather during their second conversation that he would ...

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  • November 2, 1992

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