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Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Several courts have refused to hold churches and denominational agencies liable on the basis of a breach of a fiduciary duty for the sexual misconduct of a minister.

Key point 10-13.2. Several courts have refused to hold churches and denominational agencies liable on the basis of a breach of a fiduciary duty for the sexual misconduct of a minister. In some cases, this result is based on First Amendment considerations.

* A Connecticut court ruled that a priest and archdiocese were not liable on the basis of a breach of a fiduciary duty for the priest's sexual relationship with an adult woman since no fiduciary duty arose under the circumstances. A 40-year-old woman (the "plaintiff") with a long history of psychiatric and emotional problems sought out the "advice, counsel and friendship" of a priest. At the time, the priest was serving as an associate priest at a local church and was also an employee of the archdiocese. The plaintiff did not engage in formal counseling with the priest; rather, their relationship involved mainly recreational activities such ...

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Posted:
  • May 1, 2007

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