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Clergy-Penitent Privilege Protects Pastor

Charges of criminal failure to report child abuse were dismissed for one Michigan pastor.

Child Abuse Reporting

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 Michigan court ruled that a pastor could not be prosecuted under the state child abuse reporting law for failing to report an incident of child abuse that had been disclosed to him in the course of a conversation protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. In 2009, a pastor was approached by a parishioner regarding her concerns that her husband was abusing her daughters. The parishioner testified as ...

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Posted:
  • June 26, 2014

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