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What is the church's liability?

When a church organizes and sponsors a scout troop, and the scoutmaster ends up being a child molester, how much culpability should the church have, in addition to the person actually harming children?  Does the molester also being active in the church aside from the scout troop change that level of responsibility?



LDS Church Sued Along With Scouts In Suit Over Abuse By Scoutmaster

The Legal Intelligencer reports that last week, in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia (PA), a 28-year old man filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for damages because of sexual abuse plaintiff suffered at the hands of scout leader Vance Hein in 1998- 1999. The suit, filed Dec. 12, alleges that the LDS Church "jointly operated and/or controlled" the troop along with the Boy Scouts. Hein, who is currently in prison, was also a church youth leader.  Plaintiff's lawyers plan to depose LDS Church leaders to determine their role in keeping Hein on as a scout leader.

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 5:12 PM on Dec. 20, 2012 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (15)
  • Organizes as in, they helped pick the scoutmaster? If they had a hand in picking him they should be held liable.

    Answer by kmath at 5:19 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • I do not know. All my experiences have been that the scout troup is sponsored by the church, which is different than organizing it.
    The Church allowed us to use certain areas of the church, classrooms and the gym and the parkinglot. Some donated a bit to help support the scout troup and one allowed the scouts to build a permanant structure on Church grounds.

    The scouting organizations did their own recruiting of leaders and children, not the Church. I do not see how they would be liable under those circumstances. That may not be true in the case of the LDS church ad so I would not know.

    Answer by Dardenella at 5:22 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • If they had a hand in picking him they should be held liable.

    Since he was already an active member of the church, my first question would be did they really screen him at all, or just accept him on the basis of being "one of them"?

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 5:22 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • IMO, if they had any prior knowledge that he was a pedophile, they should be held on equal ground, same thing if they failed to do a background check due to the fact he was a member. If they did a check and found nothing, I don't think they share any responsiblity.

    Answer by jerseydiva at 5:25 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • None at all. That would be like suing a school if the teacher sexually abused a student. It doesn't happen, they go after the teacher. Any person can commit a heinous act, the church isn't responsible for the actions of an individual. The only way I think the church would have any responsibility is if they knew about the a use and kept him on anyway, or helped him cover up his actions.

    Answer by missanc at 5:27 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • I do not know. But my question is, why did he wait so long to file? Plus, isn't there a statue of limitations on this stuff? Its gonna be hard to prove in court unless other come in with the same complaint. Could this guy possibly trying to get a rich quick scheme? Hoping that with all the other law suits of molestation cases with the Catholic church, that this church will just pay him off so it doesn't hurt the "image" of the Boy Scouts and what not?

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 5:48 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • Its gonna be hard to prove in court unless other come in with the same complaint.

    Why would it be hard to prove? The guy was already convicted and sent to prison for it. This is the civil suit that comes after.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 6:08 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • Why do people do this? Scouts are such a great organization. Why do people use every little crack and cranny to hurt people? There is an assumption that the church knew that the man who volunteered to lead would do this. Or, that the scouts knew. I know there is the case about the 'file', but I just don't believe it is as reported. My husband and I have been involved with scouts for 22 years. We have 3 sons who went through scouts. My youngest, who just turned 18, just got his Eagle. I have never met anyone who was in the program to hurt. They were there as parents to be involved, participate in activities, and give their son/daughter (yes, girls) structured opportunities to learn. Who are these people that want to hurt a child and why? No matter what you say, I will not be able to understand.

    Answer by jesse123456 at 6:45 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • It depends. If they failed to do a background check, or knew and ignored the fact that he was a pedophile, then they absolutely should be held responsible. If he had no criminal background and they had no way of knowing - then no. Pedophiles don't look different, and they are generally good at hiding that part of themselves. My molester is universally loved by everyone he meets - so much so that I doubt many people would believe me if I ever did decide to out him.

    Answer by DusterMommy at 7:28 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

  • The same as a school, place of employment, ect.  There has to be some standard of reasonable ability for the institution to have known.  I don't know how the church would have known about the Boy Scouts unless it had been specifically reported to someone.  I'm not sure what "jointly controlled" means.   If the defendant had no history and no one reported they had no way to know.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 8:41 PM on Dec. 20, 2012

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