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Courts Cannot Resolve Clergy Accusations of Wrongful Dismissal

First Amendment prohibits courts from getting involved in ecclesiastical matters.

Key point: Some courts have listed factors to consider in evaluating the reliability of a child's accusation of molestation. These factors may be helpful to churches in evaluating allegations of molestation.

• A Washington appeals court listed several factors to consider in evaluating the reliability of a child's claim that he was molested. The factors may be useful to churches in evaluating similar claims. Here they are: (1) an understanding of the obligation to speak the truth on the witness stand; (2) the mental capacity at the time of the occurrence; (3) a memory sufficient to retain an independent recollection of the occurrence; (4) the capacity to express in words his memory of the occurrence; and (5) the capacity to understand simple questions about it. The case involved the criminal prosecution of an adult male for sexually molesting a young girl who was 9 years old at ...

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Posted:
  • November 1, 1995

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