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Church and Pastor Sued Over Child Molestation

Don't ignore accusations of sexual misconduct.

Key point. A church may be legally responsible for a pastor's acts of child molestation on the basis of a breach of a "fiduciary duty," negligent hiring and supervision, and "ratification" of the pastor's conduct as a result of its failure to investigate and address known irregularities.
Key point. Church leaders that ignore credible evidence of misconduct by a minister or lay worker may be deemed to have "ratified" future similar acts of misconduct by the same person. As a result, it is imperative that church leaders not ignore such incidents.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a church whose pastor molested a young boy could be sued on the basis of a breach of a fiduciary duty, outrageous conduct, negligent hiring and supervision of the pastor, and ratification of the pastor's conduct. The court's ruling addressed a number of issues that will be helpful to church leaders ...

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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, 1997

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