West Virginia Supreme Court Rules Religious Institutions Exempt from Consumer Protection Law

Posted on: March 22, 2021 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

West Virginia Supreme Court Rules on CCPA Law and Clergy AbuseIn an opinion issued in late 2020, the West Virginia Supreme Court rejected Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s claim that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA) when it hired “admitted and credibly-accused sexual abusers” to work in schools and camps without warning prospective consumers.” The majority opinion stated that the CCPA does not apply to services offered by religious institutions.

In what seems to be a recurring theme with Catholic dioceses across the county, the lawsuit alleges the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston failed to conduct over 20 background checks at a Catholic elementary school while leading the public to believe that any prospective employees would be subject to such checks. Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling in this case potentially enables religious institutions across West Virginia to continue to protect themselves against liability for sexual abuse claims instead of the children assigned to their care.

A statement issued by the diocese’s spokesperson said, in part: “We affirm our full commitment to transparency about our schools and to the protection of those young people entrusted to our care across the State of West Virginia.” However, this statement seems to stand in direct contrast to the diocese’s willingness to challenge a lawsuit against it for failing to be truthful in its advertising. It is unfortunate that, after all these years, covering up child sexual abuse still seems to be standard operating procedure for Catholic dioceses.

The entire article can be viewed here.

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