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Confidential and Privileged Communications

A Texas court ruled that statements made by a church member to his pastor when confronted by the pastor about allegations of inappropriate behavior with children were not protected against disclosure in court.

Key point 3-07.4. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made to a minister acting in a professional capacity as a spiritual adviser.

The Clergy—Penitent Privilege

A Texas court ruled that statements made by a church member to his pastor when confronted by the pastor about allegations of inappropriate behavior with children were not protected against disclosure in court by the clergy-penitent privilege.

A church member ("Jerry") became involved in various activities with church members and their children. The pastor confronted Jerry about a complaint that he had kissed a minor girl. A short time later, the pastor confronted Jerry with another complaint that he was involved in "inappropriate behavior" with a church member's ten year old daughter. After the second incident, Jerry was told that he no longer had a ...

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