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The Clergy-Penitent Privilege and Consent to Disclosure

Minister's confession of misconduct not protected from disclosure.

Key Point. Confidential communications made to a minister are not protected from disclosure by the clergy—penitent privilege if the person making the communications consents to their disclosure.

• The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that statements made by an imprisoned pastor to another pastor were not protected by the clergy—penitent privilege. The facts of this case are tragic. In 1991, seven—year—old Joshua, his two sisters, and his parents began attending a local church after Joshua's mother had received counseling from the church's pastor. The pastor and his wife soon became friends with Joshua's family, and the two families often visited in each other's homes and had dinner together. The pastor also befriended Joshua and one of his sisters, taking them places and inviting them to spend the night at his apartment that he shared with his wife. After ...

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Posted:
  • July 1, 1997

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