Del. Karrie Delaney

Virginia House Del. Karrie Delaney (D-67th)

An effort to protect children from abuse in places of worship will be discussed in the upcoming General Assembly session.

Virginia House Del. Karrie Delaney (D-67th) has introduced legislation that requires clergy members to report abuse to authorities.

"I hear a large public outcry regarding the responsibility of clergy when they are made aware of child abuse, but this issue extends beyond what we are hearing in the national headlines," Delaney said in a prepared statement.

Under Virginia code 63.2-1509, professionals such as teachers, counselors, and medical personnel are required to report abuse to authorities. If the General Assembly votes in favor of Delaney’s amendment, members of the clergy would be added to the law, joining 27 states with similar enforcement following a trend of abuse cases in places of worship, according to Delaney's office.

The Loudoun and Fairfax delegate said she’s received multi-denominational support, including from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Delaney said she intends to work with both Republicans and Democrats to ensure the bill passes in the 2019 session.

“Members of the clergy are in a role of trust and authority, and they should not be held to a different standard than every other professional whose duty it is to protect children,” Delaney stated. "House Bill 1659 will do exactly that."

(5) comments

Chris McHale

I agree with Eileenei regarding the confessional. This is a sticky situation since the confessor is entitled to legal protection, much like the attorney-client privilege or spousal privilege. However there are exceptions to these privileges.

I also agree with L4T that politicians should have to report but since they excluded themselves from such laws as insider trading I can't see them holding themselves accountable for this either.

More Cowbell

Wow, what an idea... Mandate a law that clergy must report sexual abuse....Maybe they can Mandate a law that criminals using a gun in any type of crime must be reported. In other news, concrete barriers built for metro to Loudoun are starting to fall apart. It's been reported it could push it back another 2-3 years and add another $100 million.


All entities that either are supported by taxpayers or benefit by not paying taxes from their operations or assets should report ALL abuses so taxpayers can clearly evaluate whether these entities benefitting are worthy of such positioning. For example - why doesn't LCPS report ALL bullying complaints by school by month? Why doesn't the Sheriff Department report ALL complaints of profiling and other abuses? When the population that pays the taxes stops paying attention non-profits, quasi-governmentals, school systems etc. and others can spin their web of constructed success at will regardless of truth or fairness.


It’s an excellent and worthy piece of legislation. Will it be supported by clergy when it’s reported in the confessional? It should be.


sicko politicians should be mandated to report their abuse too....

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