Attorney offers advice to churches: Guard against liability

Thursday, June 20, 2013
Charlie Butts (

Attorney Mat Staver is sharing advice for churches and their leaders in the wake of an Ohio jury awarding damages in excess of $3.6 million after a former pastor at Grace Brethren Church molested a 15-year-old girl. 

The jury found the church negligent in supervising former pastor Brian Williams, who is serving an eight-year prison term (related article).

Staver, Mat (Liberty Counsel)In some cases a church, just like any other business, has been "completely negligent" and failed to heed warning signs to protect the church, says Staver, president and founder of Liberty Counsel.

"In that case you may have some liability," he tells OneNewsNow.  

"But if the church has no way of knowing that one of its agents or members or particularly the pastor is engaged in inappropriate activity, just like any other situation, there's going to be a lot less possibility for liability," Staver advises.

He says in a church setting, pastors and counselors should take precautions when meeting with others, such as a man counseling a woman only with another woman in the room.

"This is just some simple way that we need to make sure that the temptations of the devil don't ultimately sneak up behind us and bring down the church," he says.

Staver adds caution and common sense go a long way toward preventing liability. 

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