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Tue Jan 20, 2015, 04:10 PM


U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Baton Rouge Catholic confession case

By Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on January 20, 2015 at 8:58 AM, updated January 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM

The petition seeks to block a child from testifying in a civil suit against the church and priest about what she said in confession. The high court's decision means the lawsuit can move forward. The live blog, which reports on orders from the U.S. Supreme Court, reported Tuesday (Jan. 20) morning a writ of certiorari to review the Louisiana State Supreme Court's ruling on the case was denied.

The Louisiana Supreme Court's ruling, rendered in May 2014, laid out arguments that priests should be subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who makes the confession waives confidentiality. Normally, priests are exempt as mandatory reporters in the setting of confessions. The decision by the state's high court stated confidentially is intended to protect the person who made the confessions, not the person who receives them.

The original case involves a then-minor girl, who alleges she confessed during the sacrament of Reconciliation to Baton Rouge priest Father George Bayhi that a fellow church parishioner had molested her. The child in question, Rebecca Mayeux, who is now in her early 20s, discussed her allegations this summer in an interview with WBRZ.

The Mayeux family has sued the priest and diocese for damages, claiming they were negligent in allowing the alleged abuse to continue and should have reported it to authorities. The suit also names the estate of the man Mayeux says molested her, who died in 2009, as a defendant.


Something is peculiar here. The Louisiana Supreme Court held the priest-penitent evidentiary privilege can be waived by the penitent but not the priest. The civil suit seeks damages in negligence because the priest did not report it.

Without reading more, it seems like the priest could not have reported it before she waived the privilege.

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Reply U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Baton Rouge Catholic confession case (Original post)
rug Jan 2015 OP
beemer27 Jan 2015 #1
rug Jan 2015 #2

Response to rug (Original post)

Tue Jan 20, 2015, 05:49 PM

1. Worth watching

The outcome of this case could be of major import in the future. It raises some very interesting questions.

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Response to beemer27 (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 20, 2015, 07:37 PM

2. Indeed.


Under civil law the privilege belongs to the confider. When s/he waives it, that's the end of the story. Under Canon Law, the priest cannot repeat what's told to him in the confessional under any circumstances.

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