Change Virginia's Fiduciary Code & Criminal Statutes to include Clergymen

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Change Virginia's Fiduciary Code & Criminal Statutes to include Clergymen

This petition had 53 supporters started this petition

Pastors, ministers, 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.  Many clergymen have ABUSED their sacred and trusted roles and have taken advantage of their congregants emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually.  Often times this can be labeled as an "affair".  Due to the power differential, there can be NO MUTUAL CONSENT given by a congregant.  Sexual violation by a therapist, doctor, or clergy member is not about sex; it is an abuse of power, authority, and trust inherent in the relationship.

Sexual grooming by a trusted clergy member can disarm the victim's usual defenses. Trust of one's spiritual advisor can make it difficult for the victim to perceive the moves of a sexual predator as he or she is being groomed.
The primarily psychological nature of such assaults can often confuse the victim's own understanding of whether he or she "consented" to the sexual relations.
Victims of professional abuse and exploitation, can be "groomed" for sex over a period of time. The process involved a methodical, systematic wearing away of boundaries, morals and values, and quite appropriate inhibitions and prohibitions.

Currently, thirteen states and the District of Columbia have penal statutes that, in at least some circumstances, support the criminal prosecution of clergypersons engaged in sexual misconduct with congregants or parishioners.  See example below:

Arkansas State Legislation. 5-14-126

5-14-126. Sexual assault in the third degree. (a) A person commits sexual assault in the third degree if the person [is]: (B) A professional under Ark. Code Ann. 12-12-507(b) or a member of the clergy and is in a position of trust or authority over the victim and uses the position of trust or authority to engage in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity… (2) (b) It is no defense to a prosecution under this section that the victim consented to the conduct.  

Fiduciary duty refers to the responsibility of licensed cargivers (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.  Fiduciary duty laws restrict sexual contact between licensed caregivers and their clients even after the professional relationship has ended.  Below are some examples of other states fiduciary laws:

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"

Pastors, ministers, priests and rabbis should be held accountable for their actions legally.  Please change the state of Virginia's Fiduciary Code and Criminal laws to include members of clergy.

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This petition had 53 supporters