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Church School Could be Liable for Failure to Comply with State Child Abuse Reporting Law

A church can be liable on the basis of negligence for an employee’s acts of child molestation if it was aware of prior acts of molestation but failed to report them to the agency designated by state law.

Last Reviewed: March 23, 2021

Key point 4-08. Every state has a child abuse reporting law that requires persons designated as mandatory reporters to report known or reasonably suspected incidents of child abuse. Ministers are mandatory reporters in many states. Some states exempt ministers from reporting child abuse if they learned of the abuse in the course of a conversation protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. Ministers may face criminal and civil liability for failing to report child abuse.

A federal appeals court ruled that a church school could be liable on the basis of negligence for a coach’s sexual relationship with a minor student as a result of its failure to comply with a state child abuse reporting law if it had reasonable cause to suspect that child sexual abuse was occurring.

An adult male (the “coach”) was employed as the girls’ basketball coach at a Christian secondary school ...

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Posted:
  • April 30, 2019
  • Last Reviewed: March 23, 2021

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Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy
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Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws
Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws
State by state laws to report child abuse.