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smac97

Church Loses "Emotional Distress Case"

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Dadof7:

I'm a fanatic when it comes to Confidentiality rules. I don't want what is said to me, or I say to my patients, or my spiritual counselor being used against me in a court of law. We fought too long and too hard to get the church out of state business to go back to the WithchTrials and the Inquisition.

I agree to a point, however when a person gives a personal, voluntary confession of a crime in an ecclesastical or professional interview, in some jurisdictions that instantly ends the confidentiality of that interview. I state that up front in any interviews I do, so that people don't confuse confidentiality in terms of personal worthiness or non-criminal issues with the ability to confess a crime and not answer for it.

In the case of the girls, it becomes more difficult, because the confession was not from the perpetrator of the crime. However, in cases of abuse or predatory behavior there should be a resource for the ecclesiastical authority to refer the information to without either presuming guilt or innocence.

This whole issue underlines how important and wise it is for the Church to have that legal hotline for it's volunteer ecclesiastical counselors to access 24x7.

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This:

when a person gives a personal, voluntary confession of a crime in an ecclesastical or professional interview, in some jurisdictions that instantly ends the confidentiality of that interview

is tyranny worthy of Robespierre and Danton (before he himself got guillotined).

USU "Wondering if Observer knits much" 78

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This:
when a person gives a personal, voluntary confession of a crime in an ecclesastical or professional interview, in some jurisdictions that instantly ends the confidentiality of that interview

is tyranny worthy of Robespierre and Danton (before he himself got guillotined).

USU "Wondering if Observer knits much" 78

I'm not advocating this law, just bound to obey it in certain jurisdictions. I have referred people to professional psychologists before. If they called them I know not?

However I have already decided that if a serious crime were admitted to me in a confidential setting I would counsel the person to give the local authorities a call and confess to them as a part of their repentance process, and try to avoid farcing their hand by calling myself. But at what point do I as an ecclesiastical leader have to bear the legal risk and guilt of retaining in my knowldege a crime that is confessed to no one but me?

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Dadof7:

When I was in private practice as a counselor I did tell my patients that I was unable to solve their legal problems beyond just very general information. I also encouraged them to report any criminal activity to the appropriate authority. But I was not mandated to report, and personally would resent anyone telling me I had to tell a court what I heard.

When I went to work for the government I made it very clear that anything they told me could and would be used against them in court.

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But I was not mandated to report, and personally would resent anyone telling me I had to tell a court what I heard.

This is now a requirement in several states for social workers, counselors, psychologists and professional counseling situations (HR, interviews, etc.)

This is another good example of how unrighteousness (abusers, criminals and predators hiding behind confessors and not seeking to be reconciled with the law) has chipped away at our liberty and freedom (prompting legislation to curtail privacy and confidentiality).

Sad and disturbing.

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Dadof7:

It is very sad, and I resent it. But such would be the price I pay for my profession if I wasn't retired. :P

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I am an accidental counselor (as required by coaching, training and mentoring programs) and so it's easier for me to tell someone, "we aren't here to deal with crimes or pathologies, I have other resources for that."

However, I have not yet seen a profession where the spectre of legal trouble wasn't increasingly creeping in, because others had abused their freedoms.

In warehousing I couldn't let a single person set foot in the warehouse without express permission from the front office becuase of inbound theft and safety concerns (despite the fact that I would have trusted my life and belongings to the guys who ran the warehouse floor for me.)

In public school education I couldn't be alone with a child for a minute, which made it more difficult to secure safe passage home for children whos parents were tied up, and more difficult for me to tutor privately without having to arrange it during other public activities (you can only imagine how awkward that gets).

In HR I've already described some of the problems, but compound that with, "I'm sorry about the secretary in the corner of the room for our private and confidential proceeding, but you understand you could turn around and sue me for any number of reasons."

I suspect even attaching straw to brooms on an assembly line now comes with legal obligations and liabilities for the individual if not done according to the comany counsels instructions.

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If I may. In Idaho everybody has to report by state law. There are exceptions. One exception of course is the Attorney - Client privilidge. The second, by statue is the confessional. Both the LDS and the Catholic churchs testified in favor of adding this section to the law.

The point was if the confessor confesses to the priest/bishop in a specific confessional setting then the sacredness of that setting outweighs any requirement of reporting.

If a child/mother/grandparent reports they are being abused or know of the abuse, then this is not considered a confessional since they are not confessing a sin. The Bishop is obligated to report.

Having investigated child abuse as a juvenile detective, I learned that abuse rarely stops unless there is an intervention. That means a report must be made. I respect the confessional, but I was with a group who tried to block the confessional exception because I felt it allowed Bishops and other religious leaders an excuse to not report. I really haven't changed my mind, but I still respect what the LDS church is trying to say about the confessional.

Another problem is, if the Bishop referrs the child or family to counseling and the counselor has to report then it all comes out at that time. Does this stop the Bishop from referring? I don't know, I hope it doesn't. If it does then the Bishop or who ever deserves to be punished.

My thoughts only, nobody else to blame for my thougts.

Edit for spellling and grammar.

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Re: the Utah law

Furthermore, many states (Utah included) have amended their laws to clarify the penitent/clergy privilege (when it exists, when it doesn't). For example, as I understand the Utah law, if the Bishops receives the information from any source beside the abuser, he is required to report. (Thus, if the victim says it happened, he must report). However, if it comes from the abuser himself, the Bishop is not required to report. ... But even if the abuser confesses, it's my understanding that the Church requires the Bishop to take prophylactic measures regarding the victims such as arranging for children to be removed from the home and kept safe, etc.

I'm glad it's your "understanding" that the Church requires Bishops to take prophylactic measures. Is this written somewhere so as to be clear to Bishops? As pointed out several times above, Bishops have no inherent jurisdiction to remove anyone from their home, so I hope the Church makes it clear what to Bishops what they may do and encourages them to do it - i.e.: may they remove the confessor of such crimes from any calling involving contact with children? However, I don't feel very comorted by the Utah law, as technically, it doesn't require the Bishop to do anything with the confessor's confession.

Does Utah law or Church policy prevent the Bishop from investigating such a confession further and encouraging reporting of any such crimes by victims? Does the Church publish the legal requirements and its policy so that members and victim members know that Bishops are required to report abuse if a victim reports it to the Bishop?

Didn't Utah also ennact a law protecting "the Church" from liability for the actions of it's clergy in this regard? I seem to remember hearing that the state of Utah was considering this.

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A few more details (from this news article:

SEATTLE -- Two college-age sisters have been awarded $4.2 million in a lawsuit against the Mormon Church, a judgment prompted partly by the way a bishop dealt with sexual abuse committed by their stepfather while they were children.

Jessica Cavalieri, 24, and her younger sister, Ashley Cavalieri, were abused at their home in suburban Federal Way during the 1990s. The decision Friday by a King County Superior Court jury could be a landmark in sexual abuse litigation against religious institutions in Washington state, lawyers said.

...

The Mormon Church would "aggressively pursue an appeal," said Gordon Conger, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

...

Jessica Cavalieri said she hoped the case would help the church deal better with such situations.

"They don't know how to handle abuse victims and pedophiles," she said. "They're just completely naive."

The jury found the church liable for intentional misconduct and negligence and responsible for damages of at least $2.5 million. The church also must pay another $1.7 million for damages assessed to the girls' stepfather, Peter N. Taylor, who was a Mormon priest when the girls were children.

...

One juror, Nikki Easterbrooks, said the issue boiled down to whether church officials should be allowed to treat an abuse complaint as a confidential confession or be required to report it to civil authorities.

"I think abuse happens way more frequently than we think, and it gets handled internally," Easterbrooks said.

Conger said he was shocked that the church was held liable for damages. He said the girls were molested at home and denied that Taylor used his church position to take advantage of his stepdaughters.

Jessica Cavalieri said she told her congregational leader, Bishop Bruce Hatch, in 1994 that Taylor had been abusing her since she was 7.

Hatch invited Jessica and her mother to speak with him, Kosnoff said, telling her mother the meeting was about tension between daughter and stepfather. When Jessica went in alone first, Kosnoff said, Hatch told her to be glad she had not told civil authorities, who would try to destroy her family.

Hatch then met with the mother and Taylor, but told the mother only that her daughter had spoken of tension in the family and then encouraged them to work out problems through worship, Kosnoff said.

...

A church lawyer, Von G. Keetch, disputed Kosnoff's account, noting that Hatch testified that he never had any confirmation of abuse. He also cited testimony by one of the older sister's friends who said Jessica told her she initially lied to the bishop by denying she had been abused.

"Our position was Bishop Hatch did not know." Keetch said.

-Smac

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Does the Church publish the legal requirements and its policy so that members and victim members know that Bishops are required to report abuse if a victim reports it to the Bishop?

Because the Church is worldwide and laws vary from place to place (as we have seen here some jurisdictions forbid reporting information received in confession and others require it be reported), there is a hotline for leaders to call when they are confronted with these situations. That hotline is where they can receive legal counsel and direction for their particular case.

"Bishops, you stand as watchmen on the tower of the wards over which you preside. There are many teachers in each ward. But you must be the chief teacher among them. You must see that there is no false doctrine creeping in among the people. You must see that they grow in faith and testimony, in integrity and righteousness and a sense of service. You must see that their love for the Lord strengthens and manifests itself in greater love for one another.

You must be their confessor, privy to their deepest secrets, holding absolutely inviolate the confidences placed in you. Yours is a privileged communication that must be guarded and respected against all intruders. There may be temptations to tell. You cannot succumb.

Unless specifically mandated by legal requirement in cases of abuse, what is told to you in confidence must remain with you. The Church maintains a hotline which you should call concerning cases of abuse which may come to you. -Gordon B. Hinckley,

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I am confused. Isn't the claim by the plaintiffs is that the mother didn't know until after the email was sent (and didn't know through the fault of the bishop not telling her when the daugther told him)? If so, then doesn't the email itself from the daughter below contradict this position?

"When my mom found out I had been abused, do you know what she said, 'Jessica, you can't tell anyone. You know how embarrassed Grandma and Grandpa would be. If you want we could go down and file a police report, but then everyone's life would be ruined.' So I never did anything."

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Those are some pretty big settlements and verdicts.

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I'm glad it's your "understanding" that the Church requires Bishops to take prophylactic measures.

Are you questioning my presentation of the relevant law?

(3) A clergyman or priest cannot, without the consent of the person making the confession, be examined as to any confession made to him in his professional character in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which he belongs. -- U.C.A. 1953

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The victim in this case is in a far worse situation now than she was. When you get revenge, you don't "feel better." You feel worse because you are disobeying God. Vengeance is the Lord's.

So are you saying that victims of crimes should not sue for damages? I suppose you also think that they should be Christ like and just for give, and not even press charges. It would certainly help reduce the congestion in the courts but probably would increase the amount of crime in society. :P

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The victim in this case is in a far worse situation now than she was.  When you get revenge, you don't "feel better."  You feel worse because you are disobeying God.  Vengeance is the Lord's.

So are you saying that victims of crimes should not sue for damages? I suppose you also think that they should be Christ like and just for give, and not even press charges. It would certainly help reduce the congestion in the courts but probably would increase the amount of crime in society. :P

As to the first question: there is no problem with victims suing perpetrators for damages. The just, however, disagree that victims should be able to sue a church of which a perpetrator just happened to be a member, merely because it has deep pockets.

As to your second: it is not my observation that countries less litigious than the United States (i.e. all of them) have higher crime rates. Is it yours?

Regards,

Pahoran

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Of course, neither of you actually care where the money comes from, and are simply posting here to gloat about the fact that someone has succeeded in sticking it to the Church.

Not sure about Moon Quaker, but I personally have a vested economic interest in the funds used to pay off this verdict (among other similar verdicts and settlements). Hence, my question sans "gloating" or anything else.

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Rollo, exactly what is your vested interest? Tithing is a voluntary donation. Once it leaves your pocket you have no interest in it.

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Rollo, exactly what is your vested interest? Tithing is a voluntary donation. Once it leaves your pocket you have no interest in it.

So, did those that were upset with the Red Cross for not distributing 9/11 funds the way they had been led to believe have "no vested interest"?

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So is this all the victims fault or her lawyers?  :P

Neither, it's her mothers fault for not acting on the information years ago.

C.I.

How about the <i>perp</i>? If we are going to be assigning blame, shouldn't we start with <i>him</i>?

-Smac

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She should have channelled her anger against the source of her distress. The abuser.

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She should have channelled her anger against the source of her distress. The abuser.

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