No one likes to think about the possibility of a situation involving improper behavior or sexual misconduct against a parishioner, especially a minor. However, it is hard to escape the reality that these types of lawsuits are becoming more prevalent and more public.
With educational and financial resources being devoted to helping victims come forward there is ever increasing vigilance regarding this very sensitive issue. While churches are often among the first responders to offer compassion and counseling to victims and their families, they are also often at greater risk than other types of organizations, simply because of the large network of volunteers and the wide variety of activities that they sponsor for youth and children.
There is no other insurance policy or coverage that will protect an organization when a lawsuit for sexual misconduct is brought against it.
Protecting your parishioners and your ministry
Your primary concern is protecting both the adults and children in your congregation from becoming a victim. Developing a comprehensive and consistent plan for vetting staff and volunteers, including background checks, is always the first and best line of defense. Secondly, reviewing procedures regularly with your staff and volunteers regarding basic precautions can help prevent both your leadership and your parishioners from finding themselves in a compromising situation.
Here is the key truth that we have learned over the past four decades: It doesn’t have to be true to end up in court. All it takes is 2 people alone in a room or alone in a car and it becomes a “he said, she said” situation. Although there are terrible and unfortunate cases that are true, and many of these have received wide spread media attention, there are many more allegations that are groundless but still come before a judge.
Abuse and Molestation insurance coverage provides for the cost of defense regardless of whether the allegations are true or false. There is no other insurance policy or coverage that will protect an organization when a lawsuit for sexual misconduct is brought against it.