• 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.
* A Delaware court refused to dismiss a female church member's lawsuit against a pastor seeking damages for emotional distress based on his allegedly sexually harassing telephone calls to her over a period of several months. A woman (the 'plaintiff') claimed that her pastor made sexually harassing phone calls to her for nearly a year. She initially went to lay leaders of the church for assistance, to no avail. She then attempted to contact the bishop of her denomination (the 'regional church') who refused to listen to tape recordings the woman had made of harassing phone calls from the pastor, and refused certified letters from her in which she described the pastor's conduct. The plaintiff eventually filed a complaint with the local police department, which led to the pastor's arrest. After the pastor's arrest, the regional church convened a disciplinary committee that found the pastor guilty of sexual harassment in violation of the church's Book of Discipline. The plaintiff sued the pastor for emotional distress, and her church, bishop, and regional church (the 'church defendants') for a failure to respond to her complaints. She claimed to have suffered a stroke, slurred speech, headaches, and mental and emotional anguish as the result of the pastor's actions and the church's failure to intervene.