Thursday, September 17, 2009

Abuse: Liability for negligence without knowledge

Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA — After a recent sex abuse settlement involving a Boonville Catholic church, a separate lawsuit has been filed against a United Methodist Church in St. Joseph and its overseeing bodies, including one located in Columbia.

On Sept. 1, 5th Judicial Circuit Court judge Randall R. Jackson overruled a motion to dismiss a civil sex abuse lawsuit against Huffman Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Joseph. It is also against the Pony Express District of the United Methodist Church in St. Joseph and the Columbia's Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, both of which are overseeing Methodist bodies.

The plaintiff is a former Huffman member who filed the suit anonymously.

"This ruling is significant because it is the first time a Missouri court has held that a negligence case could be pursued against a church for sexual abuse," said Ken Chackes, the plaintiff's attorney, who has handled about 100 cases involving alleged sexual abuse involving the clergy. In earlier lawsuits, victims had to prove that the church knew the abuser was going to harm children and failed to take actions to prevent it. [...]

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