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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

Defenses and Claims of Immunity

Defenses and Claims of Immunity

(p.155) Chapter 14 Defenses and Claims of Immunity
The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses

James T. O’Reilly

Margaret S. P. Chalmers

Oxford University Press

Churches in the past had a form of immunity under civil tort law, but sex abuse cases against churches often prevailed over such claims made today. The First Amendment shield for religious belief does not cover criminal sexual misconduct by ministers today. The chapter covers the privilege given to priest-penitent disclosures. It also details the protection that may be available to churches as nonprofit, charitable institutions against large damage awards. Another subject covered is the immunity granted to Vatican officials, including the pope, because Vatican City is a sovereign entity that can only be sued under particular circumstances in international law.

Keywords:   charitable immunity, privilege, First Amendment, liability, priest-penitent disclosures

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