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April 20th, 2013

Why Sex Abuse Within a Church May Not be Reported or Investigated

Principal Convicted of Sexually Abusing Teens Met at Church

Earlier this month, a former middle school principal was sentenced for sexually abusing two teenage boys. According to an online news article, the principal met the two teens through his church, took them under his wing, and became a mentor to them. One of the victims testified that he reported the abuse to church officials who downplayed the abuse. *Source: “Former Metro middle school principal sentenced in sex abuse case” www.tennessean.com.

The Unique Problem of Sex Abuse within a Church Institution

Self-preservation is a strong instinct. This is especially true for a church or any other similar organization. Fear of negative media attention, fear of being investigated and fear of being sued are powerful motivators and explain why church leaders and officials often do nothing when confronted with an allegation that a church employee or a member of the congregation is sexually abusing a child. This type of behavior most certainly can and often does result in liability – for failing to do the right thing and report the sex abuse.

In some cases, instead of a church official, an employee may become aware of sex abuse, having either witnessed abuse or otherwise learned about it. For example, a church janitor may see a church employee or pastor sexually abusing a child, but simply does not know what to do. Out of fear of losing their job, the janitor does and says nothing. In this instance, there is a strong argument that the church failed to institute a proper policy about reporting sex abuse and also failed to train employees about the policy. These are common kinds of negligent acts which may also subject the church to civil liability.

When sex abuse is perpetrated in a small community, like a church or a school, those in charge may suspect the abuse and do nothing. Whether it is an intentional cover up or negligence (i.e., failing to institute a sex abuse reporting policy), church organizations must realize that they can face liability for sex abuse.

Related church sex abuse articles:

Church Sex Abuse Lawyer. Representation by a Former Prosecutor

Firm founder, Guy D’Andrea, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of sexual abuse in the civil courts. For more information about church or priest sex abuse cases, call 800-220-7600.

Our attorneys serve sex abuse victims in the following areas: Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; New Castle County, DE; he County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can obtain special admission in other states such as New York and Delaware on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.