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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Child Abuse Reporting

§ 3.08.08
Key point 3-08.08. Clergy who are mandatory reporters of child abuse are excused from a duty to report in many states if they learn of the abuse in the course of a conversation covered by the clergy-penitent privilege. Some state child abuse reporting laws do not contain this exception.

Ministers who are mandatory reporters of child abuse under state law face a profound ethical dilemma when they learn of child abuse in the course of a confidential counseling session that is protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. They must choose between fulfilling their legal obligation to report, or honoring their ecclesiastical duty to maintain the confidentiality of privileged communications. A number of states have attempted to resolve this dilemma by exempting clergy from the duty to report child abuse if the abuse is disclosed to them in the course of a privileged conversation. Other states, while ...

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