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Church Liability for Murders Related to Ministers' Affairs

A Georgia court dismissed such a case.

• A Georgia appeals court dismissed a daughter's lawsuit against a priest and Catholic diocese claiming that her father murdered her mother and then killed himself as a result of an adulterous affair between the mother and a priest. The daughter claimed that her mother had been seduced by the priest, and that her father shot and killed her mother and then shot himself after finding out about it. The daughter claimed that the diocese was responsible for her parent's deaths on the basis of negligent hiring and retention of the priest. She insisted that if the diocese had adequately investigated the matter and "defrocked" the priest, the deaths would not have occurred. The priest denied any wrongdoing and insisted that "the only relationship between him and [the mother] was that of the usual relationship between a priest and his parishioner." A trial court granted the motion of the priest ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1994

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