Texas bill would protect churches that report sex abuse allegations

AUSTIN, Texas — Southern Baptist pastors and leaders have initiated a Texas bill to allow nonprofits including churches to disclose credible but unproven sexual abuse allegations with no fear of civil liability.

The bill would protect charitable organizations and their volunteers when disclosing such information to prospective employers, even when no criminal charges have been filed against the accused. Those who spread allegations with “malicious purpose” or “in bad faith” would remain open to civil liability, according to the bill.

The bill’s intent is to strengthen churches and other charitable organizations in hindering repeat offenders by shielding them from potential lawsuits if they “pass on information that they … have good reason to believe is true,” said Ben Wright, pastor of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church, Cedar Park, Texas, who helped initiate the bill.

Supporters said the bill “could become a concept for other states to consider.”

(Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.