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Confidential and Privileged Communications Between Members and Clergy

Court rules clergy-penitent privilege not limited to "confessions."

Key point: In most states, the clergy-penitent privilege is not limited to "confessions" but includes any conversation in which the penitent is seeking spiritual counsel from a member of the clergy.

• The Utah Supreme Court ruled that a bishop did not have to disclose in a civil trial information shared with him by a father who was guilty of abusing his adopted child. An adult woman sued her adoptive father, alleging that he had sexually abused her throughout her childhood. As a result of his conduct, the father sought advice from a bishop of his church. The church later convened a disciplinary hearing at which the father was excommunicated. The daughter subpoenaed documents from the church pertaining to any communications her father had with the bishop regarding his conduct. The bishop opposed this request on the ground that the information sought by the daughter was protected ...

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Posted:
  • January 2, 1995

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