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Recent Developments in Illinois Regarding Child Abuse

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a church counselor could be criminally prosecuted for child molestation despite the fact that the prosecution was based in part on a pastor's unauthorized disclosure of the incident to civil authorities.

Illinois
State:
Key point. Churches may reduce their risk of liability by responding to allegations of child abuse on church premises in a way that is viewed as appropriate and reasonable by the victim and the victim's family.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a church counselor could be criminally prosecuted for child molestation despite the fact that the prosecution was based in part on a pastor's unauthorized disclosure of the incident to civil authorities. The court rejected the counselor's argument that the abuse would never have come to the attention of the prosecutor had it not been for the pastor's unauthorized disclosure. The court noted that the victim's parents were so dissatisfied with the church's response to the incident that they would have reported it to the civil authorities even if the pastor had not. The case contains some important lessons for all church leaders.

Facts

Two minor ...

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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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