Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Social Media and Sexual Offenses
Key point 4-11.1. Clergy who engage in sexual contact with an adult or minor are subject to civil liability on the basis of several legal theories. They also are subject to criminal liability.

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a teacher for the attempted seduction of a minor based on his communications with a 16-year-old student via an Internet social network. A high school teacher and coach communicated via an Internet site (Facebook.com) with a 16-year-old student. The communications, which were replete with sexual references and images, constituted "sexting." While the teacher repeatedly urged the girl to sneak out of her house while her parents were asleep and join him, such an encounter never occurred. The relationship was entirely "virtual," using social media.

The teacher's actions came to light after the student informed her parents, and he was charged with two counts of attempted child seduction. Under Indiana law, a teacher who engages in touching or fondling a student between the ages of 16 and 18 with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the teacher or the student commits "child seduction," a class D felony. Indiana law also provides that a person "attempts" to commit a crime when, "acting with the culpability required for commission of the crime, he engages in conduct that constitutes a substantial step toward commission of the crime." The teacher was found guilty of two counts of attempted child seduction.

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Posted: August 19, 2015
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