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The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses$
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James T. O'Reilly and Margaret S.P. Chalmers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937936.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 April 2021

Evidence Privileges and Clergy Abuse Issues

Evidence Privileges and Clergy Abuse Issues

(p.121) Chapter 11 Evidence Privileges and Clergy Abuse Issues
The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses

James T. O’Reilly

Margaret S. P. Chalmers

Oxford University Press

Church sacraments respected by the U.S. Constitution under First Amendment protection include the “seal of confessional.” Abusers and some bishops invoked this rule in order to refuse to report sex abuse and to rebut the prosecutors‘ demand for disclosures. The chapter traces the history of the clergy/penitent privilege and how it interacts with evidentiary privilege, in particular the difference that may exist between a duty to report abuse as compared to a duty to testify. It discusses the penalties both criminally and under civil tort law for failure to report. Finally it details the immunity that protects those clergy members who report abuse.

Keywords:   confessional, admission, privilege, abuse, failure to report

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