Even churches have legal reporting requirements when they find out that sexual abuse is going on, but many times, they simply don’t report it because, I can only guess, they don’t feel that they have any obligation to society or their legal requirements. This is one such case, where a church in McMinnville, Oregon, simply ignored their duty to report the sexual abuse of a young girl by her father to the authorities, resulting in the girl contracting herpes.
The girl is suing for $5.2 million dollars, alleging that the church leadership had a duty to report the crime and failed to carry through on their legally mandated requirement.
Allegedly, the church leadership thought she was accusing her stepfather of molestation and simply didn’t believe her. According to her attorney Randall Vogt, “They essentially said, ‘He’s a good guy. He wouldn’t do something like that.'” Except it isn’t up to them to make those judgements, they have the same legal requirements as school officials and doctors to report sexual abuse cases to the authorities regardless of how valid they might think they are.
According to the suit, the girl reported the abuse to the church on many different occasions, starting when she was between 6-7. The church not only failed to report to the police as required by the Oregon mandatory reporter law, they ignored their own stated policies on reporting abuse. The girl finally told her mother and a counselor, who did their job and reported the abuse to the Oregon Department of Human Services. The father’s parental rights have since been rescinded.
Because the abuse went on so long, the girl has suffered psychological trauma and has tried to commit suicide on several occasions. The girls is now 12 and if a 12 year old is trying to kill themselves, you know something serious is wrong. The suit asks for $200,000 for medical expenses and counseling costs, plus $5 million for pain and suffering. In Oregon, if she is found to be a “vulnerable person” because of her age, that could be tripled to $15.6 million.
Now I wouldn’t say, but since sexual abuse in churches has been such a high profile topic for many, many years, I can’t see how any church would not immediately report such allegations, just to cover their own potential legal liability. It’s horrible when they protect their own pedophile clergy, but when they can’t even do their job as mandated reporters under the law, they earn their way onto Horror Show Sunday.