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Recent Developments in Washington Regarding Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers

A Washington state court ruled that a church official did not have a legal duty to protect persons from the actions of a church member.

Washington
State:
Key point. A church may have an affirmative legal duty to protect members from harm if a "special relationship" exists between the church and either the wrongdoer or potential victims.

A Washington state court ruled that a church official did not have a legal duty to protect persons from the actions of a church member. A church member (the "defendant") sought out a bishop in the Mormon Church, and informed him that he had recently been in a fight with two teenage boys and that they had falsely accused him of inappropriate sexual contact. The bishop advised the defendant to be honest with the authorities and to seek the help of an attorney if criminal charges were filed. Several months later, the defendant again met with the bishop, telling him that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. At the defendant's request, the bishop agreed to help him find community service opportunities, ...

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Posted:
  • July 1, 1999

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