It is a crime not to report suspected child abuse to authorities, but should the Utah Supreme Court make it grounds for a lawsuit, too?
One mother and son argue yes, claiming leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could have prevented them from being abused at the hands of convicted child molester George K. Tilson.
They have asked the justices to review a Utah Court of Appeals ruling in August that upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit they filed against the church. The pair say LDS leaders knew Tilson had sexually abused children in wards where he lived, but never reported the abuse to authorities or warned otherchurch members.
“We are alleging that there is civil liability for . . . people who get information about abuse and fail to report it,” said attorney Mary Corporon, who represents the family.
The appellate judges said churches have no obligation to warn followers about known sexual predators in their congregations. It also said churches cannot be sued for failing to report suspected child abuse to authorities.
The judges determined the church had no “special relationship Tilson as a member that would make it liable for his actions.
The church has disputed the family’s allegations and argued it should not be held responsible as an institution for one individualmember’s conduct.
The high court will decide whether it wants to review the case at a later date.