Jump directly to the content

Recent DevelopmentsRecent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Child Abuse Reporting Protection in Counseling
A Florida appeals court ruled that counseling notes prepared by a psychotherapist during counseling sessions with a minister accused of child abuse were not protected against disclosure in court.

Key point 4-08. Every state has a child abuse reporting law that requires persons designated as mandatory reporters to report known or reasonably suspected incidents of child abuse. Ministers are mandatory reporters in many states. Some states exempt ministers from reporting child abuse if they learned of the abuse in the course of a conversation protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. Ministers may face criminal and civil liability for failing to report child abuse.

* A Florida appeals court ruled that counseling notes prepared by a psychotherapist during counseling sessions with a minister accused of child abuse were not protected against disclosure in court by the state's psychotherapist-patient privilege if they contained references to child abuse. A minor (the "plaintiff") sued a church claiming that he had been sexually molested by a Catholic priest. The plaintiff subpoenaed counseling notes prepared by a psychiatrist during his counseling sessions with the defendant priest. These sessions included an evaluation for pedophilia. The psychiatrist refused to turn over the notes based on the state's psychotherapist privilege. This privilege gives patients the privilege "to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, confidential communications or records made for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of the patient's mental or emotional condition, including alcoholism and other drug addiction, between the patient and the psychotherapist, or persons who are participating in the diagnosis or treatment under the direction of the psychotherapist."

Article Preview

This article is currently available to ChurchLawAndTax.com subscribers only. To continue reading:

View All
from our store
Managing the Legal Risks of Lay Counseling

Managing the Legal Risks of Lay Counseling

Develop specific policies and procedures that protect your church, lay caregivers, and those who receive care.
Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws

Did you know pastors and other church staff may be required by law to report child abuse and that laws on this vary state by state?
Avoiding Church Lawsuits

Avoiding Church Lawsuits

Create proactive procedures to avoid common reasons why churches most often go to court.
Sex Offenders in the Church

Sex Offenders in the Church

Legal and safety concerns to address when dealing with a sex offender.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.