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Counseling and Clergy Malpractice

Most courts have rejected clergy malpractice as a basis for liability in all cases.

Key point 4-05. Most courts have rejected clergy malpractice as a basis for liability in all cases. A few courts have found clergy guilty of malpractice for engaging in sexual misconduct with an adult or minor, or if they engage in "non-religious" counseling.

* A Utah court ruled that a counselee's lawsuit against a pastoral counselor had to be dismissed on the ground that it was in essence a claim of "clergy malpractice" that the civil courts could not resolve without violating the First Amendment. An adult male church member alleged that during a pastoral counseling session a pastor breached his fiduciary duty and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him. The member sued the church, and a trial court dismissed the lawsuit. A state appeals court affirmed the dismissal. The appeals court noted that the state supreme court previously ruled that claims for clergy malpractice or similar ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 2007

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