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Clergy-Penitent Privilege Doesn't Apply in Molestation Case

Pastor's account stands because statements made by member weren't confidential; privilege had been waived.

Key point 3-07.2. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made in confidence. This generally means that there are no other persons present besides the minister and counselee who can overhear the communication, and that there is an expectation that the conversation will be kept secret.
Key point 3-08.05. In most states a counselee can waive the clergy-penitent privilege by disclosing the privileged communication to someone other than the minister. In some states the minister also may waive the privilege.

* An Iowa court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply to incriminating statements made by a church member to his pastor since the statements were not confidential and any privilege had been waived. A single mother frequently used a 28-year-old male (the "defendant") to babysit her three minor sons. After several months, the ...

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  • September 1, 2011

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