Sexual Misconduct with Congregants or Parishioners: Crafting a Model Statute
British Journal of American Legal Studies, Vol. 1, No. 189, 2012
28 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 12, 2012
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 or 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.
Keywords: clergy, sexual misconduct, first amendment, model statute
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation