Gibson v. Brewer

952 S.W.2d 239 (1997)

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Gibson v. Brewer

Missouri Supreme Court
952 S.W.2d 239 (1997)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Father Michael Brewer (defendant) was a Catholic priest and associate pastor. Brewer invited two children, Michael Gibson and Gibson’s friend, to the church rectory to watch movies and spend the night. Early in the morning, Brewer allegedly touched or fondled Gibson in a sexual, offensive, and unwelcome manner. Gibson’s parents (plaintiffs) learned of the incident and reported it to the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (the diocese) (defendant). Officials of the diocese brushed off and minimized the incident, telling the parents that it “happens to young men all the time” and that their child would recover. Gibson’s parents learned that other boys had also been sexually molested by Brewer and renewed their concerns to the diocese. The diocese again urged the Gibsons to forget the incident. Brewer was eventually removed from his position. The Gibsons asserted nine claims against Brewer and the diocese, including negligent hiring, negligent failure to supervise, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, agency liability, and independent negligence of the diocese. The trial court dismissed all counts against the diocese for failure to state a claim and as precluded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The appellate court agreed that all claims should be dismissed against the diocese. The Missouri Supreme Court reviewed the matter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Benton, C.J.)

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