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Q&A: Should a Teenage Molester Be Allowed to Attend Church?

High risk situations require extra precautions.

A 14-year-old boy sexually molested his 3-year-old cousin. This incident did not take place at our church. However, the 14-year-old has been attending our church and wants to continue. How should our church respond?

Let me make seven observations in response to this question.

First, extraordinary risks require extraordinary precautions. Allowing a known child molester to have unrestricted access to your church property and church activities exposes the church to an extraordinary risk of liability.

Second, a jury would be incredulous that the church took no steps to protect minors in such a case. It is possible that a jury would find the church liable on the basis of negligent supervision or negligent retention.

Third, if a jury concludes that the church was reckless in not adequately supervising or restricting the offender, it may assess punitive damages. Such damages generally are not covered ...

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Posted:
  • March 3, 2008

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