2 out of every 3 sexual assaults
are committed by
someone the victim knows

Facts About Sexual Assault

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)


It's A Crime, Not An Affair

State Laws Criminalize Clergy Sexual Relations with Congregant

Fiduciary duty refers to the responsibility of licensed caregivers (doctors, therapists, lawyers, social workers, etc.) to "do no harm."  Society's expectation of these caregivers is that they will attend to the needs of those in their care.

Caregivers are prohibited by state criminal statutes, fiduciary duty laws and by codes of ethics from exploiting their clients or patients to meet their own emotional and psychological needs.


For examples of how some cases have been handled in the courts, see excerpts below.

Ministers, pastors, priests and rabbis are often the first choice for those seeking emotional as well as spiritual assistance.  Their role as counselors gives them fundamentally the same responsibility to those in their care as therapists have to their current or former clients.


Sample state criminal statutes regarding clergy sexual relations with congregants

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The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) website has a state-by-state resource guide to definitions of sexual assault and the relevant statutes of limitations for reporting sexual assault.



Full text of statutes can be found at Washburn University School of Law.










State Fiduciary Duty Laws

Fiduciary Duty Laws Restrict Sexual Contact Between Licensed Caregivers and Their Clients Even After the Professional Relationship Has Ended

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Florida 491.0112(1): "sexual misconduct with a client or former client when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact"

Iowa 709.15 (1)(b): "a former patient or client is considered to be emotionally dependent for one year following the termination of the provision of mental health services"

Michigan 750.520e(1)(e): "the sexual contact occurs during or within two years after the period in which the victim is his or her client or patient"

Minnesota 609.344(h)(ii): "the complainant is a former patient of the psychotherapist and the former patient is emotionally dependent upon the psychotherapist"

New Mexico 30-9-10(A)(5): "during the course of psychotherapy or within a period of one year following the termination of therapy"

Rhode Island 5-63.1-1 (1): "a person who obtained .  .  . therapeutic service from a mental health professional within two years prior to sexual contact with the mental health professional"

Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): "by exploiting [the patient or former patient's] .  .  . emotional dependency"; and (b)(10) "by exploiting the other person's emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman's professional character as spiritual advisor"



How Courts (and Congregations) Handle Cases of Clergy Sexual Misconduct

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Donald Dean Budd


Joseph Ngoc Tu Nguyen (Joseph Tu)


Patrick Edouard


Charles Kanu


Michael Segelstein



Mike Fehlauer


Mordecai Tendler


Peter DeBellis