Kenneth R. v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn

229 A.D.2d 159, 654 N.Y.S.2d 791 (1997)

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Kenneth R. v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
229 A.D.2d 159, 654 N.Y.S.2d 791 (1997)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn (the diocese) (defendant) hired Enrique Jimenez, an ordained Roman Catholic priest. Jimenez was ordained in Venezuela and presented the diocese with a letter of recommendation from his prior church in Venezuela. There was no indication of past misconduct or sexual deviancy at the time Jimenez was hired. While employed by the diocese, Jimenez sexually abused Kenneth R. (plaintiff) and other minor children in the church. Kenneth reported the abuse to church officials and alleged that other minor abuse victims had also previously reported Jimenez’s misconduct to church officials. Jimenez pleaded guilty to sexual abuse in criminal court. Kenneth sued the diocese for negligent hiring, negligent retention, and negligent supervision, arguing that the diocese’s failure to investigate Jimenez before hiring him, and the diocese’s failure to terminate Jimenez after receiving reports about his sexual misconduct with minors, caused Kenneth’s injuries. The diocese moved to dismiss, arguing that imposing tort liability on the diocese would violate the First Amendment and substantially burden the free exercise of religion. The trial court denied the diocese’s motion to dismiss. The diocese appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Goldstein, J.)

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