Judge say suit over child abuse reporting law will continue - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Judge Says Suit Over Child Abuse Reporting Law Will Continue

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Katheryn Harris Carmean White Katheryn Harris Carmean White

DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC)- A Delaware judge says state officials can pursue a lawsuit against elders of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Sussex County for failing to report suspected child abuse.

The judge last week declined to rule in favor of the elders of the Seaford congregation, saying there are factual issues that must be decided at trial.

She nevertheless reiterated her concerns about the constitutionality of Delaware's child abuse reporting law.

The state is suing the elders for not reporting a sexual relationship between Katheryn Harris Carmean White and a 14-year-old boy, both congregation members at the time.

The defendants say they did not have to report what they learned because the law exempts communications "between priest and penitent in a sacramental confession."

The case has raised questions about whether that exemption unconstitutionally applies only to select denominations that use such terms.

Carmean White was arrested in February 2013 and charged with multiple counts of third-degree rape, continuous sexual abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. She was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of third-degree rape, fourth-degree rape and child endangerment.

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