Sep 11, 2017

Judge talks with attorneys in child abuse reporting case

Associated Press
September 7, 2017

DOVER, Del. — A lawsuit targeting elders of a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation for failing to report suspected child abuse continues to wind its way through Delaware’s court system.

The attorney general’s office sued elders of the Sussex County congregation in 2014 for not reporting an unlawful sexual relationship between a woman and a 14-year-old boy, both of whom were congregation members.

A judge scheduled a teleconference with attorneys Thursday to discuss the case.

The defendants say they did not have to report what they learned because Delaware’s child abuse reporting law exempts communications “between priest and penitent in a sacramental confession.”

The case has raised questions about whether that exemption unconstitutionally applies only to select denominations using such terms.

The woman was sentenced to six years in prison for rape and child endangerment.

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