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Recent Developments in Washington Regarding Confidential and Privileged Communications

A Washington court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege applied to confidential statements made to a pastor, and that the privilege was not waived when the pastor disclosed the communications to two others.

Washington
State:
Key point. Statements made between a pastor and counselee may be protected by the clergy-penitent privilege even if other persons are present, so long as the statements cannot be heard by the other persons.

A Washington court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege applied to confidential statements made to a pastor, and that the privilege was not waived when the pastor disclosed the communications to two others. A distraught mother contacted a pastor and asked him to meet with her son. The pastor, who was not acquainted with either the mother or son, drove to the son's apartment where he was introduced by the mother as "the preacher." The mother remained in the apartment during the pastor's "spiritual" consultation with her son which lasted about an hour. The pastor met with the son on at least two other occasions before the son turned himself over to the police. One meeting took ...

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Posted:
  • January 1, 1999

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