• Key point 10-09.2. Some courts have found churches not liable on the basis of negligent supervision for a worker's acts of child molestation on the ground that the church exercised reasonable care in the supervision of the victim and of its own programs and activities.
Negligence as a Basis for Liability
* A New York court ruled that a school could not be liable on the basis of negligent supervision for a teacher's alleged molestation of a 6-year-old boy because it had no prior knowledge of a propensity to engage in such acts. A 6-year-old boy claimed that he was sexually molested on numerous occasions by a teacher at his school. The alleged perpetrator was an "English as a second language" teacher to whom the boy was sometimes assigned for personal instruction. Medical examinations provided no conclusive evidence of sexual abuse. Police investigated, but no criminal charges were filed. School authorities also investigated the situation, culminating in a decision not to prefer disciplinary charges. The boy's parents sued the school, claiming that their boy was repeatedly molested by the teacher, and that the school was responsible for these acts on the basis of negligent supervision. After extensive pre-trial discovery, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit. The parents appealed. A state appeals court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the case. The court acknowledged that "a school has a duty to adequately supervise students in its care, and may be held liable for injuries that are foreseeable and proximately related to the school's failure to provide adequate supervision." The standard to determine whether a school has breached this duty is "to compare the school's supervision and protection to that of a parent of ordinary prudence placed in the identical situation and armed with the same information." The court concluded,