Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Sexual Abuse Screenings and Liability
Key point 10-04.2. Some courts have found churches not liable on the basis of negligent selection for the molestation of a minor by a church worker since the church exercised reasonable care in the selection of the worker.
Key point 10-09.2. Some courts have found churches not liable on the basis of negligent supervision for a worker's acts of child molestation on the ground that the church exercised reasonable care in the supervision of the victim and of its own programs and activities.
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.

A federal court in Colorado ruled that a church was not liable on the basis of negligence or fiduciary duty for a Sunday School teacher's sexual relationship with one of his adolescent students off of church premises. A 40-year-old male (the "defendant') became a volunteer Sunday School teacher at his church for a group of adolescent minors. The church had a "two-deep" policy for certain settings where two adults had to be present, including Sunday classrooms with children ages 11 or younger. The church did not apply the two-deep policy to teenage Sunday School classes because there were several teenagers in the classroom, the doors were not locked, the church was full of people, other adults were frequently in and out of the classroom, and the class was short.

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