Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 2
A federal district court in New York ruled that various church agencies and officers could not be liable on the basis of negligence for the sexual molestation of an adolescent boy by a pastor.
Key point 10-07.2. Many courts have ruled that the first amendment prevents churches from being legally responsible on the basis of negligent retention for the misconduct of ministers.
Key point 10-18.2. Most courts have refused to hold denominational agencies liable for the acts of affiliated ministers and churches, either because of first amendment considerations or because the relationship between the denominational agency and affiliated church or minister is too remote to support liability.
Negligence as a Basis for Liability

* A federal district court in New York ruled that various church agencies and officers could not be liable on the basis of negligence for the sexual molestation of an adolescent boy by a pastor. An adult male (the plaintiff) alleged that in 1994 and 1995 when he was a minor he was sexually molested on a number of occasions by a pastor (Pastor Fred) who was serving as a "pastor emeritus" in a church in Massachusetts affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). In 1997 Pastor Fred was prosecuted and convicted of various criminal charges relating to his molestation of the plaintiff.

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Posted: March 1, 2004
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