Key point 10-05.02. Some courts have found churches not liable on the basis of negligent selection for the sexual misconduct of a minister or other church worker involving another adult since the church exercised reasonable care in the selection of the worker.
This section reviews court decisions in which a church or other religious organization was found not liable on the basis of negligent selection for inappropriate sexual contact with an adult by a minister or other church worker. Note that several courts have concluded that the First Amendment's "nonestablishment of religion" and "free exercise of religion" clauses prevent the civil courts from resolving negligent selection claims involving clergy misconduct.
A Florida court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment from resolving a woman's lawsuit claiming that she had been the victim of a priest's sexual misconduct. Doe v. Evans, 718 So.2d 286 (Fla. App. 1998). The court concluded that the resolution of a negligent hiring, supervision, or retention claim against a church or diocese would amount to an excessive entanglement in violation of the First Amendment.
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