Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Victim May Sue Religious School and Its Leaders for Failing to Report Abuse, Court Says
A negligence claim can proceed on evidence that religious leaders failed to follow state reporting laws.
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To the extent that the victim claims that the [religious leader] is liable for negligence for failing to report the sexual assault, the victim has sufficiently alleged this claim. The victim alleges that the religious leader operates the school and supervises the teachers and other administrators of the school. Specifically, the victim alleges that he sets the school's policies and procedures and further supervises its daily operations. He also allegedly hired other administrators and teachers at the school and recruited students. These allegations are sufficient to maintain an action against the defendants for negligence.

What this means for churches

Eight states have enacted laws that create civil liability for failure to report child abuse. In these states, victims of child abuse can sue adults who failed to report the abuse. In each state, the statute only permits victims of child abuse to sue mandatory reporters who failed to report the abuse. No liability is created for persons who are not mandatory reporters as defined by state law.

Posted: September 6, 2019

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