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Court Dismisses Negligent Supervision Lawsuit in Student Sexual Abuse Case
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.

A Minnesota court dismissed a lawsuit claiming that a school was responsible, on the basis of negligent supervision, for a coach's sexual abuse of a minor student. In the fall of 2009, an adult male (the "defendant") was employed as a football coach and weight room supervisor at a public high school. Prior to hiring the defendant, the school district interviewed him, checked his references, and conducted a criminal background check. During the hiring process, the school district did not discover anything that suggested he posed a risk to students.

When the defendant was hired, he received a copy of the school district's employee handbook, which contained policies regarding how employees should interact with students. One policy stated, "Sexual relationships between school district employees and students, without regard to the age of the student, are strictly forbidden and may subject the employee to criminal liability." The policy also prohibited employees from dating students, having sexual interactions with students, and committing or inducing students to commit immoral or illegal acts. The policy directed employees to "employ safeguards against improper relationships with students or claims of such improper relationships." The defendant acknowledged he knew during the fall of 2009 that the policy prohibited school district employees from dating or having sexual interactions with students.

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