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A Church Could Be Liable for a Retired Pastor’s Acts of Sexual Abuse

Claims of negligent hiring and retention depend on whether he was an agent or employee of the church.

Key point 10-04. A church may be liable on the basis of negligent selection for a worker’s molestation of a minor if the church was negligent in the selection of the worker. Negligence means a failure to exercise reasonable care, and so negligent selection refers to a failure to exercise reasonable care in the selection of the worker. Liability based on negligent selection may be imposed upon a church for the acts of employees and volunteers.

Key point 10-07. A church may exercise reasonable care in selecting ministers or other church workers but still be responsible for their misconduct if it “retained” them after receiving information indicating that they posed a risk of harm to others.

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a church could be liable for a retired pastor’s acts of sexual abuse on the basis of negligent hiring and retention if his performance of miscellaneous ...

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