Background Checks and Parental Consent Forms

When a church considers the types of records that must be kept, it also wonders how long they must be kept.  We have a record retention list which covers most type of records which would be used by a church and could be provided upon request.

Recently as a result of a lawsuit against a church, the question of how long Background Checks and Parental Consent forms should be kept became an issue.  This case involved a child molestation that occurred while the victim was a minor.  Once the victim became an adult she sued the church concerning the incident.  Several years had passed since the incident and the church had disposed of the parental consent form and any background information they had on the youth leader who had molested the victim.

In most states the statute of limitations to bring an action for molestation could be as much as seven years from the date the victim becomes an adult.  Assume a child is molested at 10 years old, the child does not become an adult until 18 and with a seven year statute, the child could be 25 years old when the suit is brought.  That would be 15 years after the incident.

If the church is to defend itself, it must have those forms available to show that it was not negligent in its hiring the youth leader or approving a volunteer youth worker.  Since the church could be sued some 25 years after the molestation, it is best that the church keep the parental consent forms and background checks like the insurance policies—–permanently.

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