Court: Conversations with pastors not always privileged

A conversation with a religious leader is not protected from being revealed in court unless it occurred in private and the leader was acting as a spiritual adviser, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a pastor’s testimony should be allowed at a trial in which a father is facing charges of sexually molesting his two daughters.

While the conversation occurred in private, the pastor did not offer to keep it confidential. Nor did he purport to be acting in the role of a spiritual adviser, and he explicitly refused to counsel the man.

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