For many years, I used a five-step checklist for minimizing the risk of child sexual abuse on church property or during church activities:
- a written application
- an interview
- reference checks
- a six-month rule (no one considered for youth or children’s ministry who has not been a member of the church for at least six months)
- a two-adult rule (no child allowed to be alone with one unrelated adult at any time)
In recent years, I added a sixth precaution—a criminal records check (national database and national sex offender registry).
After reviewing an important background court case (below), along with other recent precedents, developments, and key insights related to public revulsion of child abuse, I have now developed a new 13-step set of precautions to manage the risk of child sexual abuse in churches.
Background court case
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a Catholic diocese was not liable on the basis of negligent hiring or breach of a fiduciary duty for a priest’s molestation of two young boys, but could be liable on the basis of negligent retention and supervision. Andrews v. Cronin, 34 Mass. L.. Rep. 663 (Mass. Super 2018).