Date: April 12, 2012
Creator: Toben, Bradley J.B. & Helge, Kris
Description: This article discusses sexual misconduct with congregants or parishioners. Contemporary studies and the media focus on children as the victims of the sexual misconduct by clergy from various religions but such misconduct can be directed towards adult congregants or parishioners and frequently occurs when the relationship is one where consent might not easily be refused. Several state legislatures have attempted to craft statutes that provide civil remuneration for the victims or criminal punishments for the assailing clergy. However, the majority of these statutes have been deemed unconstitutional because they, in effect, require a court to interpret and redirect church policy. This article proposes a model statute that focuses upon the position and authority of the clergyperson and the consequent vulnerability and susceptibility of the alleged victim as the predicates for the sexual misconduct, and not on the fact that the actor is a member of the clergy, performing his or her clerical duties, or in any other manner forcing a court to interpret church policy or doctrine.
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