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When Does the Clergy-Penitent Privilege Apply?

A court recently made a significant ruling.

• In a clearly erroneous decision, the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled that statements made by a church member to his pastor were not covered by the "clergy-penitent privilege." A church member sexually molested three boys. The boys and their families were also members of the church. The molester invited one of the boys to his home to "try on some Boy Scout uniforms," and molested him while assisting him in trying on the uniforms. Another boy was molested by the same person in the sound room at the church. In each case, the molestation consisted of touching the boys' genitals, either directly or through their clothing. The parents of two of the boys informed their pastor of the molestation. The pastor promptly pulled the molester out of a choir rehearsal and asked him to come to his office. The pastor confronted the individual with the allegations, and the molester admitted that they ...

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Posted:
  • November 2, 1992

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