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Church Officials Reduce Counseling Payouts for Victim of Abuse

Court denies break of contract allegation against Archdiocese.

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.

An Indiana court ruled that an Archdiocese was not liable on the basis of breach of contract for reducing the amount of counseling fees it paid on behalf of a woman who had been sexually molested by a priest when she was a minor. In 1999, a 37-yearold woman (the "plaintiff") and her husband met with several officials of a Roman Catholic Archdiocese to discuss alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff by a priest when she was a minor. During the meeting, church officials discussed the Archdiocesan policy that provides for the payment of counseling fees and therapy sessions for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

A few months later the plaintiff ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • November 1, 2012

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