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Missouri Supreme Court to Hear Chaminade Sexual Abuse Case

For the first time since 1997, the Supreme Court of Missouri will hear a case that could allow for more survivors of sexual abuse to bring negligence claims against religious entities.

On Dec. 31, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri transferred the case, John Doe 122 v. Marianist Province of the U.S., to the Supreme Court of Missouri. The plaintiff in this case is a 1971 graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School who sued the school and school counselor for the sexual abuse he suffered as a student. In his appeal, he sued for negligent supervision, failure to supervise clergy and negligent failure to supervise children. Negligent supervision is when someone has a legal responsibility to supervise others. In negligent cases, negligent supervision usually means of a child but like in this case it can mean of an employee.

The Appellate Court cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that gave a religious entity protection against a negligence suit, determining that the suit required an excessive entanglement between church and state. After reviewing the facts in John Doe 122, the Appellate Court decided to transfer the case to the Supreme Court because of “the general interest and importance of the issues on appeal.” This means the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District believes this case is of interest and importance to the general public.

The attorney for the plaintiff is quoted as saying, “We’re not challenging any religious beliefs. We’re not challenging any religious practices. We’re just seeking to hold an employer responsible for keeping children safe from sexual predators. We don’t believe that infringes on any religious beliefs.”

MCADSV will monitor this case and update member agencies and supporters as it progresses.

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