November 25, 2005

LDS CHURCH LOSES SUIT: When lay clergy counsel abuse victims, church is responsible

Salt Lake Tribune

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it follows state laws - which vary across the country - on reporting child sexual abuse.
But a jury in Washington state, where the law does not require clergy to report sex-abuse cases, has nevertheless ordered the church to pay at least $2.5 million to two sisters who contend that local church leaders failed to help them when they reported being abused by their stepfather.
It is the first time that a Washington jury has held a religious organization liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress for failing to either report child sexual abuse or to urge the victim to report it to authorities. The LDS Church plans to appeal.
The jurors apparently believed that when religious leaders are in positions where they counsel members of their congregations in such serious matters as sexual abuse, they must do more than strictly adhere to the letter of the law. We agree. They have a responsibility to report the abuse, even when reporting is not required.

Posted by kshaw at November 25, 2005 07:55 AM