• Key pointSeduction of Counselees and Church Members Clergy who engage in sexual contact with an adult or minor are subject to civil liability on the basis of several legal theories. They also are subject to criminal liability.
A Texas court ruled that a pastor, but not his employing church, was liable under a state "mental health provider" law for injuries he caused to a female counselee as a result of engaging in a sexual relationship with her. A church hired a new pastor who had previously served in two other churches. A few years later the church hired one of its long-time female members (Laura) as the church secretary. Laura began visiting with the pastor about marital problems she was having with her husband. These informal sessions concerning her marital problems grew into regular sessions that took place on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings each week. As these sessions continued, the pastor also began counseling Laura's husband separately regarding the couple's problems. Eventually, the church's youth pastor and music pastor confronted their senior pastor about his continuing closed-door meetings with Laura. They told him that they did not feel that it presented a good testimony for him to be spending so much time alone with her and that it was unprofessional, and at worst, immature conduct. The pastor assured them that there was nothing wrong with his conduct toward Laura.