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ALarson

Should Church Leaders Report Child Abuse When Confessed?

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Can that happen without destroying the privilege?

Yes, I believe it can.  I believe that someone who is abusing another person and confesses should be aware that the authorities will be contacted as has been stated by our church leaders and already quoted:

Quote

 

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.[48]

 

Quote

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

Or do you disagree with these statements?

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1 hour ago, Danzo said:

those of you who want to destroy privileges(attorney, priest, doctor, spouse, etc), will probably cause more damage than good.  People won't seek the help they need if they know seeking help is an automatic report to the police.  There will end up being more abuse as a result. 

These privileges are here for a reason.

 

Well if I tell my shrink today that I am abusing children, the police will be called.  That is explained to me in my first session.  

If my therapist doesn’t report me, she can lose her license. 

Maybe that interrupts some confessions, but you’d be surprised how it often doesn’t. 

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Bishops should NEVER EVER report or be legally required to report what they are told by a perp in confessional.   The only thing that (and forcing counselors to report confessions by their clients) does is to prevent any perp who seeks help from any and all opportunities to get it. 

 

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Just now, ALarson said:
Quote

If you like.  I think you'll have a hard time finding substantiated stories along the lines of "the abuse happened/continued because the bishop followed the already-in-place guidelines, training, and helpline instructions from the Church and its legal counsel."

Who are you quoting there?  

I was postulating a theoretical scenario.

Just now, ALarson said:

I have simply stated

Aye, there's the rub.  You keep "simply stat{ing}" things that gloss over extremely important points (such as preserving the priest/penitent privilege).

Just now, ALarson said:

that abuse cases have not always been reported to the authorities and I believe they should be. 

Mandatory reporting laws exist in most states to address the bulk of such circumstances.

The Church has in place guidelines, training, the helpline, etc. to make sure the bishops are properly reporting allegations of abuse.

There are some circumstances where a confession of abuse from the perpetrator himself is made to the bishop.  In such circumstances, the priest/penitent privilege kicks in.  You seem to acknowledge this, and you are denying that you want to destroy the privilege, but then you proceed to make sweeping declarations that, if implemented, would destroy the privilege.

I really don't understand what you are saying here.

Just now, ALarson said:

Even calling the helpline does not mean the leaders will always report the abuse. 

If you are looking for a 100% effective solution, you are bound to be disappointed.

But if you are suggesting that we substantially alter or abolish the priest/penitent privilege because the Church's policies are not 100% effective, I think that is not reasonable.

Just now, ALarson said:

And yet they have stated:

Quote

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.[48]

 

In the context of reports of abuse from victims, yes ("The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop...").  Confessions of abuse (by the perp) are treated differently from allegations of abuse (by a purported victim).

I think there are vanishingly few instances in which

A) a penitent confesses of abuse to a bishop, and

B) the penitent refuses to turn himself into the police, and

C) the abuse is ongoing, and

D) the bishop and the helpline attorneys can't figure out a way to intervene and stop the abuse.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 minutes ago, webbles said:

It is also pretty clear that that statement has no factor in this case.  We are talking about the perpetrator, not the victim.  If the victim had come to the Bishop, then it should be reported to the police because there is no clergy privilege.  You only have clergy privilege if you are the perpetrator.

Yes, and I can say at least in my neck of the woods that if a victim comes in with a case of child abuse the hotline is called to make sure the method of reporting does not legally taint the investigation. Then, if possible, with the victim’s consent contact a friend or family member to call CPS or law enforcement and if that is not possible in a very short timeframe the leader will.

The leaders I have seen are very conscientious about this and so was the hotline about minimizing trauma and taking action in a productive way. In one case we contacted other family and asked them to find a pretext to get the kids out of the house so CPS would not have to rely on the parent under investigation to give them a place the children could stay (if not they would have hit foster care and it would take at least weeks and possibly months to get them into an extended family member’s home) and make sure they had a safer place to be interviewed and not have to watch if there was an arrest of a parent.

It is easy standing on the sidelines to blast church leaders for these situations but they are delicate situations with lots of moving parts, the rules are arcane, and missteps and doing the “obvious right thing” can make the child or children less safe by ensuring the perpetrator is never punished.

Tell the social media mob that if they really want to help with child abuse there are lots of ways to do so other then venting at people dealing with difficult situations the best they can and morons with incomplete information howling for their blood for not doing “the obvious thing” that would probably ruin the legal investigation are not productive.

Admittedly most of those bashing the church over this care less about the children and more about venting their anger at the church. There are many ways to help.....donations, foster parenting, CASA volunteering, shelter volunteering, etc. People scream that children are of infinite value but they do not act like it and do not vote like it and it makes me livid that their hypocrisy is somehow giving them catharisis and a sense of moral rightness when not too long ago I was involved with an abused suicidal kid who is agitated and traumatized and who did not have a safe place to sleep that night because of a lack of government funding and general public apathy. Do not be lazy with your outrage! Do something with it and make the world a little less horrible! :( 

 

 

Sorry for the rant and it is not directed at anyone specific in this or the other thread (well, one person in the other thread maybe) but this kind of ignorant self-satisfied hypocrisy pisses me off.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I believe that someone who is abusing another person and confesses should be aware that the authorities will be contacted as has been stated by our church leaders and already quoted:

Quote

 

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.[48]

 

Quote

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

Or do you disagree with these statements?

I think you are willfully misreading those quotes to say what you want them to say.

As an article of our faith, we believe in obeying the law, so anything that you are quoting has to take that into consideration.

So, with that in mind, it should be obvious how these quotes are to be understood.

For example, in the first quote, is says abuse "should be" reported to local law enforcement, not that abuse "will be" reported. So, yeah, when a bishop learns of abuse, he should report it - unless, of course, he is bound by privilege from doing so because he learned of the abuse from the confessor rather than a victim.

Same thing goes for the second quote: if the church learns of abuse, it cooperates with civil authorities to report / investigate the abuse. But part of cooperating with civil authorities is following the law, which may protect privileged communications made to clergy members. 

I'm pretty sure that you know all this already, so I'm not sure why you are trying to wrest these quotes to mean something that you know that don't mean.

 

 

 

Edited by Amulek

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16 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Yes, I believe it can.  I believe that someone who is abusing another person and confesses should be aware that the authorities will be contacted as has been stated by our church leaders and already quoted:

Or do you disagree with these statements?

I think you are taking a public statement of general application that addresses allegations of abuse from the victim or other concerned party and improperly applying it to a scenario where the privilege is implicated.

Are you suggesting that the Church has abandoned the privilege?

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, smac97 said:

In the context of reports of abuse from victims, yes ("The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop..."). 

But that's not what these statements from our church leaders are saying:

Quote

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

Quote

 

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.

 

Those are very clearly stated, IMO.  The church does not just teach that only the "victims of abuse should report it to their bishop" (unless you believe they misspoke and meant something different than what is quoted above?).  Who do you believe the "we" is in the first statement?  And, the second statement specifically name "the bishop".  

Edited by ALarson
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

Well if I tell my shrink today that I am abusing children, the police will be called.  That is explained to me in my first session.  

If my therapist doesn’t report me, she can lose her license. 

Maybe that interrupts some confessions, but you’d be surprised how it often doesn’t. 

Yes, and that would apply even if that was in the past. That does not appear to apply to clergy in the state of Utah. I would support changing the privilege law to be removed in this specific case but the law does not have that exemption right now.

I am in Texas and information regarding child abuse is excepted from being privileged in all cases except for attorney-client privilege so there is an allowance to report and some (including me) would say duty to report.

Edited by The Nehor
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Yes, and I can say at least in my neck of the woods that if a victim comes in with a case of child abuse the hotline is called to make sure the method of reporting does not legally taint the investigation. Then, if possible, with the victim’s consent contact a friend or family member to call CPS or law enforcement and if that is not possible in a very short timeframe the leader will.

The leaders I have seen are very conscientious about this and so was the hotline about minimizing trauma and taking action in a productive way. In one case we contacted other family and asked them to find a pretext to get the kids out of the house so CPS would not have to rely on the parent under investigation to give them a place the children could stay (if not they would have hit foster care and it would take at least weeks and possibly months to get them into an extended family member’s home) and make sure they had a safer place to be interviewed and not have to watch if there was an arrest of a parent.

It is easy standing on the sidelines to blast church leaders for these situations but they are delicate situations with lots of moving parts, the rules are arcane, and missteps and doing the “obvious right thing” can make the child or children less safe by ensuring the perpetrator is never punished.

Tell the social media mob that if they really want to help with child abuse there are lots of ways to do so other then venting at people dealing with difficult situations the best they can and morons with incomplete information howling for their blood for not doing “the obvious thing” that would probably ruin the legal investigation are not productive.

Admittedly most of those bashing the church over this care less about the children and more about venting their anger at the church. There are many ways to help.....donations, foster parenting, CASA volunteering, shelter volunteering, etc. People scream that children are of infinite value but they do not act like it and do not vote like it and it makes me livid that their hypocrisy is somehow giving them catharisis and a sense of moral rightness when not too long ago I was involved with an abused suicidal kid who is agitated and traumatized and who did not have a safe place to sleep that night because of a lack of government funding and general public apathy. Do not be lazy with your outrage! Do something with it and make the world a little less horrible! :( 

 

 

Sorry for the rant and it is not directed at anyone specific in this or the other thread (well, one person in the other thread maybe) but this kind of ignorant self-satisfied hypocrisy pisses me off.

I actually love this....and completely agree!  (Especially with the part in bold....)

I do think that we (members and leaders) are hopefully learning from past mistakes.  I would never state nor do I believe that any leader has ever wanted to intentionally cause more harm to any abuse victim or potential victims.  But improvements and more protections can be put in place to prevent any of what has happened in the past to continue to taking place in the future.  I agree with the statements from our leaders (I quoted above) and hope they will be followed 100%.

 

Edited by ALarson
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30 minutes ago, webbles said:

It is also pretty clear that that statement has no factor in this case.  We are talking about the perpetrator, not the victim.  If the victim had come to the Bishop, then it should be reported to the police because there is no clergy privilege.  You only have clergy privilege if you are the perpetrator.

I know of a situation where the victim of abuse became very angry at a bishop upon finding out that he (the bishop) was obligated to disclose.  The bishop received the disclosure of abuse (from the victim), called the helpline, and received an instruction to go back to the victim and persuade him/her to consent to the bishop contacting law enforcement.  The attorney also said that the consent was, in the end, merely optional, since disclosure to law enforcement was mandatory.  The bishop conferred with the victim, who at first refused to give consent, and who became very angry upon learning his/her consent was not required, and that disclosure of the allegation was required by law.  In the end, the victim gave a (very begrudging) consent.  The bishop then made the report to law enforcement.  The bishop also undertook further efforts to ensure that the abuse was immediately stopped and could not re-commence.  The bishop also arranged for the victim to receive counseling (mostly paid for by the ward).  The bishop also had numerous follow-up visits with the victim.  And when the victim moved, the bishop sought and obtained his/her consent to notify the victim's new bishop of what had happened, and of the likely need for further assistance and support (and counseling).

This sort of thing, including unforeseen complexities (like a lack of cooperation from the victim), happen all the time.  I think it is wonderful that the Church has put in place guidelines, training and resources to help bishops traverse such difficult waters.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think you are taking a public statement of general application....and improperly applying it to a scenario where the privilege is implicated.

Really?  It was published on the church's newsroom website.

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/how-mormons-approach-abuse

I'm not sure how much more specific they could have stated their policy:

Quote

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

 

Edited by ALarson

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, ALarson said:
Quote

I think you are taking a public statement of general application....

Really?  It was published on the church's newsroom website.

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/how-mormons-approach-abuse

I'm not sure how much more specific they could have stated their policy:

Surely you are not going to play pretend?  To be deliberately obtuse?

Again, are you suggesting that the Church has abandoned the privilege?

Thanks,

-Smac

EDIT TO ADD: From a 1994 article in the Deseret News:

Quote

A person's conversations with clergy cannot be revealed, even if that person isn't making a formal confession, the Utah Supreme Court has ruled.

The court's ruling clarified two points: members of all religions have a right to expect visits with their clergy to be confidential even if those religions don't include formal confessions, as the Catholic Church does, and someone seeking advice from clergy has the same right to confidentiality as someone admitting a wrongdoing.In a 5-0 decision released Monday, the court ruled that even non-penitent conversations with church leaders are confidential if the person intends them to be, if he is seeking spiritual guidance or if the conversation is part of church discipline.

"This ruling is an important restatement of the law so people in Utah can feel confident that they can talk to their priests, rabbis and bishops and know that what they say in confidence will be kept in confidence," said Oscar McConkie Jr., attorney for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And then there's this study guide published by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society: "THE SANCTITY OF THE CLERGY – PENITENT PRIVILEGE."

And here's a decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals.  A summary:

Quote

The trial court ordered the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (“the LDS Church”) to disclose the report of church disciplinary action (RCDA) for John Roe, a church member, who abused his stepdaughters, Jane and Rebecca Doe. In analyzing whether the clergy-penitent privilege protected Roe's RCDA from disclosure, the trial court found that the RCDA was a confession “made ․ in the course of discipline enjoined by the church,” and that it was made in confidence.  However, the court concluded the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply because the LDS Church failed to establish that all participants in the disciplinary proceeding were “regularly licensed or ordained” clergy.  We conclude based on LDS Church doctrine that the participants in Roe's disciplinary proceeding were ordained clergy and reverse the trial court's order requiring disclosure of the RCDA.

I could go on, but there is ample evidence that the Church still adheres to the privilege, while also doing everything it can to stop ongoing abuse and report past abuse.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Surely you are not going to play pretend?  To be deliberately obtuse?

Not at all.  I've posted the policy and quotes published by our leaders repeatedly now.  It appears you are the one being obtuse here and refusing to see how clearly they state their policy of reporting the abuse.  

Or what do you believe they are stating here:

Quote

 

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

Quote

 

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.

 

I'm not sure what you're not seeing here. 

Either you believe they mean what they've stated and published, or you must believe they have misspoken regarding reporting the abuse when they learn about it.  Do you disagree with their published statements and believe they should qualify them or clarify them?

 

Quote

 

10 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Again, are you suggesting that the Church has abandoned the privilege?

I've already answered that question (a few times, I believe).  

Edited by ALarson
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5 minutes ago, ALarson said:

It was published on the church's newsroom website.

From what I have seen on other topics, church newsroom statements don’t get into nuances all that much....understandably so given the possibility that nuances might be presented as the general rule rather than exceptions or other confusing misinterpretations. 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Calm said:

From what I have seen on other topics, church newsroom statements don’t get into nuances all that much....understandably so given the possibility that nuances might be presented as the general rule rather than exceptions or other confusing misinterpretations. 

I see your point, but I'm not sure that applies here.  It was very clearly stated (and in the other quote as well).

I do know this is complicated, but maybe they should have been more clear if their policy is not to always report abuse "if they learn of it"..... if they are not going to do that.  (Just my opinion.)

As stated (both times), there's not much wiggle room and pretty specific.

(I've got to leave for an appointment and won't be on here for a few hours....so if you reply, I don't want to appear rude when I don't.  I've pretty clearly stated my opinions here already though :) )

 

Edited by ALarson
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2 minutes ago, Calm said:
Quote

It was published on the church's newsroom website.

From what I have seen on other topics, church newsroom statements don’t get into nuances all that much....understandably so given the possibility that nuances might be presented as the general rule rather than exceptions or other confusing misinterpretations. 

Yep.  But the omission of the nuances is not equivalent to the idea apparently being advanced by ALarson, namely, that such nuances do not exist.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yep.  But the omission of the nuances is not equivalent to the idea apparently being advanced by ALarson, namely, that such nuances do not exist.

So, how would you change these two published statements from our leaders regarding abuse (to make them more clear or correct):

Quote

The Church has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse. This means that if we learn of abuse, we cooperate with civil authorities to report and investigate the abuse.

Quote

 

Child protection policy in the LDS Church:

The LDS Church states that abusive behavior, whether physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional, is a sin and is condemned unreservedly by the church.[48] The church teaches that victims of abuse should report it to their bishop, and should be assured that they are not to blame for the abuse. Abuse of any form should be reported not only by the bishop but also by the victim to local law enforcement.

 

Just curious what you feel would improve them or make them more accurate.  How would you word the church's policies regarding child protection and abuse?

(And now I really do have to leave, but I'll check back in later....)

Edited by ALarson
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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Yes, and that would apply even if that was in the past. That does not appear to apply to clergy in the state of Utah. I would support changing the privilege law to be removed in this specific case but the law does not have that exemption right now.

I am in Texas and information regarding child abuse is excepted from being privileged in all cases except for attorney-client privilege so there is an allowance to report and some (including me) would say duty to report.

No. It would not apply if it was in the past.  Only if minors and elders are in present immanent danger. Edited to say In my area

Edited by MustardSeed

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Just now, ALarson said:

I see your point, but I'm not sure that applies here.  It was very clearly stated (and in the other quote as well).

A statement can be both clear and omit nuance.

Just now, ALarson said:

I do know this is complicated, but maybe they should have been more clear on them not always reporting abuse if they are not going to do that.  (Just my opinion.)

You acknowledge the complications, and then fault the Church for not adding such complications into a generalized newsroom statement?

You seem to be demanding precision in an arena where there is a general rule, but also some limited exceptions to that rule.  The issue, then, is not so much with the rule and its limited exceptions, but rather with your expectations (as evidenced by you now moving into talking about what you think the Church "should have" done).

I was trying to make the same point Calm did, but she (as usual) did a better job.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, ALarson said:

So, how would you change these two published statements from our leaders regarding abuse (to make them more clear or correct):

I'm not sure I would change the Church's statements.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

No. It would not apply if it was in the past.  Only if minors and elders are in present immanent danger. Edited to say In my area

Your state is different. My apologies.

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5 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Your state is different. My apologies.

You are forgiven.  

😜

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ALarson said:

Yes, I believe it can.  I believe that someone who is abusing another person and confesses should be aware that the authorities will be contacted as has been stated by our church leaders and already quoted:

Or do you disagree with these statements?

I don't believe you understand how this works in the real world.  If Church authorities, local or otherwise, learn of abuse from the abuser in the confessional, they are bound by law in virtually every Common Law jurisdiction worldwide from sharing that information, and if they do, not only do they open themselves and the Church up for suits by the penitents, the information obtained cannot be used in Court.  It's not a close question.  The only question is if there is a reasonable likelihood of recidivism by the penitent and danger to those previously abused or who might in future be abused by the penitent.

The Church's help line for Bishops, etc, which has been around probably for close to 20 years now, is absolutely the last word, from the Church's perspective, on what must be done and how in any particular jurisdiction.

Edited by USU78
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I don't think many people here understand the scope of  privilege. 

Privilege applies to communications regarding past behavior.

 

If i tell my attorney I killed someone, the information is privileged.

If I tell my attorney I am going  to kill someone, then the information is not privileged and the attorney has an obligation to report.

The same should apply to a priest penitent confession. If person confesses to a past misdeed, it would be protected. If a person confesses to something is ongoing, or something that is going to happen, then the clergy member should report to authorities. 

Remember that Privilege belongs to the person confessing, not to the priest (or attorney, or spouse)

Having the Clergy report the occurrence  could actually hurt the case (the person accused can assert the privilege and prevent the clergy member from testifying).

 

 

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