The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a small business owner was not liable on the basis of negligent supervision for an employee's sexual molestation of a 12-year-old girl occurring on business premises on a day when the business was closed. While this case did not involve a church, the court's conclusions will be instructive to any employer. An owner of a dry cleaning business (Josh) hired a male employee (Steve), and later promoted him to the position of manager. As manager, Steve had keys to the premises and was responsible for operating the business, which included opening and closing the store. However, Steve did not have authority to bring third parties to the business during non-working hours.
On a Sunday morning when the store was closed, Steve told a neighbor that he was going into work to provide a carpet cleaner with access to the premises, and he asked if the neighbor's 12-year-old girl (the "victim") could accompany him. The neighbor agreed, and Steve took the victim to the store. While there, he took the victim to a back office where he locked the door and sexually assaulted her. Steve was later prosecuted and convicted for felony child molestation, and was sentenced to prison. The victim's parents sued Josh, the owner of the store, claiming that he was liable for Steve's behavior on the basis of negligent supervision.