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Friday, January 25, 2019

Is the Clergy Required to Report Child Sex Abuse? Not in Some States

When a Virginia 16-year-old told her parents that their church’s youth leader, Jordan Baird, had been sending her sexually suggestive text messages, they immediately confronted their pastor.

Pastor David Baird, the perpetrator’s father, said the church would investigate, but he did not tell law enforcement authorities — and he wasn’t required under Virginia law to report a suspected case of abuse or face criminal charges. The abuse became physical, and later other girls accused Jordan Baird of assaulting them.

Jordan Baird served eight months in prison after being convicted on five felony counts of indecent liberties with a minor. But church members want state law changed to force pastors like David Baird, who still leads the Life Church in Manassas, Virginia, to join the list of professionals specifically required to report such incidents.

They brought their story to Democratic Virginia state Del. Karrie Delaney, who was a sexual assault crisis counselor in Florida before moving to Virginia.


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