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The harm that the direct. victims of clergy sexual misconduct have suffered has been the subject of extensive publicity. By contrast, the harm that the indirect victims suffer has received little attention. This Article identifies and discusses the costs—to those who belong to churches and to those who are served by churches—of using litigation to bring about compensation for victims of clergy sexual misconduct. These costs include loss of monetary resources a church would otherwise use for religious, charitable, or educational purposes; the possibility of a ministry not representative of the people it serves; decreased positive interactions between pastors and their congregants; a changed relationship between bishop and pastor in which bishop is no longer a confidant; changes in the structure of the church's hierarchy; and finally, a decreased ability for churches to participate in public life. This Article contends that using litigation to compensate victims of clergy sexual misconduct poses a threat to religious freedom. The Article concludes by recommending that churches devise a means of fairly compensating victims with as little harm to religious liberty as possible.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
6 Sep 2022
1.39 MB



  • Subject
    • Litigation

    • Religion Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Law Review

  • Volume
    • 44

  • Issue
    • 4

  • Pagination
    • 949

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022