Religious institutions have constitutional protections, but they are not above the law. Unfortunately, that has not stopped the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups from arguing that the First Amendment shields them from civil lawsuits for negligent supervision and retention of employees who sexually abuse children. Most state courts that have considered the issue have rejected this claim by churches, recognizing that holding religious employers liable for failure to monitor employees in sex-abuse cases does not interfere with constitutionally protected religious freedoms. However, courts in Missouri, Wisconsin and Utah have twisted the First Amendment into a shield for organizational liability for pedophile clergy. In an outrageous case, a Missouri appellate court summarily dismissed a negligence case brought against the Archdiocese of St. Louis by an individual who said he had been abused by a priest. His suit charged the archdiocese with negligent failure to supervise the priest, who had a past record of child sexual abuse. The court threw out the complaint, saying that Missouri law does not allow it because judging the supervision of the priest would require inquiry into religious doctrine, which it contends would violate the First Amendment. This bizarre conclusion would grant churches a special exemption from neutral, generally applicable laws designed to protect children. The United States Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reverse this erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. The justices should grant the plaintiff's petition for review, which they are scheduled to consider on Friday. Since some 20 states have not ruled on this issue, the Supreme Court can provide urgently needed clarity. It should firmly declare that the First Amendment does not exempt religious entities from accountability for exposing children to harm. THE NEW YORK TIMES, Editorial - March 14, 2012
A woman is suing the East Hartford doctor previously accused of raping a patient, claiming that he had sex with her in a hotel after giving her a drug cocktail and telling her that he had to be the first to have intercourse with her after pelvic surgery, court documents show.
A four-year-old lawsuit will go to trial this month as a former Staples High School student who says she was sexually assaulted by her English teacher in 2003 sues Westport Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, the Board of Education and a former Staples High School principal for negligence. The trial is set to begin March 20, said Bridgeport-based attorney Cindy Robinson, who is representing the former student. A motion filed by the board's attorney to dismiss the case was denied by Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Wednesday.
At least six out of 10 children who have been sexually abused suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to the state Department of Children and Families. As such the DCF will use a $3.2 million federal grant to improve the way the agency, community-based clinics and social workers statewide handle children affected by trauma in all its forms.
Federal prosecutors say that a former Granby police captain who was investigating child pornography secretly amassed one of the largest child porn collections in Connecticut.
Connecticut lawmakers are holding a public hearing to discuss whether state law needs to be changed in the wake of the child abuse scandal at Penn State University. The informational hearing before the Legislature's Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Children on Tuesday is focusing on expanding the statute that requires teachers, health professionals and others to report suspected child abuse.