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Passing on the Pastor: Sexual Abuse and Public Statements About Ministerial Qualifications

passing the pastorIf a religious organization believes that a minister or other employee has engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, what responsibility does it have to notify others? How does child sexual abuse change the rules for normal termination procedure? Those who become victims of that person insist it is the organization’s duty to share that information. Employees who have been terminated for such behavior say sharing such information is a breach of confidence amounting to defamation. 

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Goals of Therapy Versus Goals of Investigation

Therapeutic processes and legal processes are different. Certain things are appropriate in the therapeutic process that are not acceptable in a legal process. Absolute factual accuracy is not the primary goal of therapy. In the world of an investigation, with livelihood and organizational survival on the line, impartial factual accuracy is very important.  

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Here is the Steeple--But Whose Steeple?

Here is the church
And here is the steeple.
But does it belong
To the group or the people?

Church property disputes are painful and usually contentious. Usually, though not always, they begin when a congregation wants to leave the denomination, often over doctrinal fidelity. Because it is a dispute over church property, deep constitutional issues apply that may trump regular property law.

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Mechanics of a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Ministry

personal injuryA claim of negligence against a church or ministry can have very serious consequences. There are many possible types of legal claims: torts, breach of contract, employment claims, intellectual property and so forth.  Because of the potential high value of the claims, and because it is a common type of lawsuit that can take many forms, this post reviews the tort of negligence resulting in a personal injury, with the church or ministry as a defendant.  While individual defendants are usually named, some sort of shared liability with the organization is likely because it has greater financial resources.

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The Importance of Preservation to Winning a Civil Appeal

Although it is important that an appellate brief be artfully drafted, victory on appeal may turn more on whether trial counsel had the forethought to ensure that an issue was preserved. This article reviews the general rules regarding preservation and explores the narrow exceptions to that rule that have been recognized by Colorado appellate courts. It then provides some practical suggestions for preparing for appeal during trial and beyond. 

This article was originally published in the Pikes Peak Lawyer, October 2015, the official publication of the El Paso County Bar Association. Read More→

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