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.
A Virginia court affirmed a six-year prison sentence for a youth pastor who had engaged in “sexting” with a member of his youth group. A 14-year-old girl (the “victim”) sought out the youth pastor (the “defendant”) of her church for counseling. The two began to communicate via text message and later through Snapchat, an image messaging mobile phone application in which a user can send a photograph or text message with a set time to expire. The receiving user can only view the text message or photograph for one to ten seconds before the image or text message expires and is automatically deleted from the mobile phone. Via Snapchat, the victim sent the defendant a nude picture of her upper body, and in return, the defendant sent her a nude picture of himself. They also sent each other videos in which the defendant was nude and the victim’s upper body was nude, and engaged in numerous email conversations.