Court: Law can shield priests from reporting abuse evidence
NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana's Supreme Court has ruled that a priest is not required by law to notify authorities after hearing evidence of abuse from a child making a religious confession.
Friday's ruling deals with a section of Louisiana law requiring health workers, teachers, clergy and others to report evidence of child abuse to authorities. A lower court held the law unconstitutional because it would force priests to violate their religious beliefs by reporting information from confessions.
But the Supreme Court ruling analyzed the law and concluded that religious leaders are exempt from the law when they hear evidence of child abuse in a "sacramental confession."
The ruling came in a continuing lawsuit against Catholic authorities by parents who say their daughter was abused by a parishioner at an East Baton Rouge Parish church.
WBRZ EDITOR'S NOTE: The original AP story cited the alleged abuse at an Assumption Parish church, when in fact it was an East Baton Rouge church.