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Missionaries' Sexual Misconduct

Is a denomination liable for the misconduct of its missionaries?

• The Supreme Court of Virginia threw out a $1.5 million jury verdict against the Foreign Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. A foreign missionary sexually molested his own children. He was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence. His wife and one of his daughters later sued the missions board. The mother maintained that at a missionary candidates conference conducted just before the family left for missionary service in Africa, she entered into an "oral contract" with the board whereby the board promised that if she and her husband became missionaries the board would provide protection for the health, welfare, and safety of their family. The jury returned a verdict of $1.5 million in favor of the mother and her daughter, and the board appealed to the state supreme court. The supreme court began its opinion by noting that "the standard for determining ...

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Posted:
  • November 2, 1992

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