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The Power Of The Private Confessional

Renee Bright

Recent reporting from the Associated Press on child sexual abuse raises important questions about the usefulness of clergy-penitent privilege. 

Paul Douglas Adams, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, confessed to sexually abusing his daughter. Adam’s bishop called a helpline run by Kirton McConkie, a church-employed law firm. Kirton McConkie advised the bishop not to report the abuse to law enforcement because clergy-penitent privilege protected him from doing so. And so the abuse continued for years, until Adams was eventually arrested.

How does this legal principle work? Who does it benefit? Why do we have it in the first place? 

This Friday at 11 a.m., we’re exploring the history and present of priest-penitent privilege and asking whether this protection should change.


Airdate: Friday, Aug. 26, 2022 at 11 a.m. and Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022 at 11 a.m.