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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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Constitutional Issues

Constitutional Issues

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter 8 Constitutional Issues
Source:
The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses
Author(s):

James T. O’Reilly

Margaret S. P. Chalmers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937936.003.0008

Freedom of religion is an American constitutional bedrock, but unfairness to victims and exposure of diocesan knowledge of past alleged misconduct put pressure on claims that suits in civil court would entangle tort laws as a result of religious diocesan internal discipline. Civil authorities have largely won the issue of whether the “seal of confessional” keeps facts told to the bishop about the abuse as a proper secret; ultimately, disclosure won. The chapter also addresses the question of whether there can be a tort of “clergy malpractice,” and the constitutionality of the statutory reopening of limitations periods for child abuse reports.

Keywords:   entanglement, freedom of religion, confessional immunity, seal of confessional, clergy malpractice

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