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Denominational Agencies—Legal Liability - Part 2

A Missouri court affirmed a jury verdict of $1 million against a denominational officer who sexually harassed a female minister.

Key point 4-11.1. 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.

Key point 10-10.2. Many courts have ruled that the first amendment prevents churches from being legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for the sexual misconduct of ministers.

Key point 10-18.3. There are several legal defenses available to a denominational agency that is sued as a result of the acts or obligations of affiliated clergy and churches. These include a lack of temporal control over clergy and churches; a lack of official notice of a minister's prior wrongdoing in accordance with the denomination's governing documents; lack of an agency relationship; the prohibition by the first amendment of any attempt by the civil courts to impose liability on religious organizations in ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 2002

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