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Child Abuse Reporting

A Texas court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not prevent a minister from testifying against a church member in a child molestation prosecution.

Key point 3-08.08. Clergy who are mandatory reporters of child abuse are excused from a duty to report in many states if they learn of the abuse in the course of a conversation covered by the clergy-penitent privilege. Some state child abuse reporting laws do not contain this exception.

A Texas court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not prevent a minister from testifying against a church member in a child molestation prosecution.

A 10-year-old girl claimed that her stepfather (the defendant) had sexually molested her. Following this incident, the defendant and his wife conferred with an elder of their church. The defendant's wife also reported the incident to the police, and the defendant was charged with indecency with a child. At trial, the defendant claimed that statements he made to a church elder were privileged communications to a member of the clergy under a Texas law ...

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