Church Security and Your Safety: Protecting Your Family in Houses of Worship
Each week, families across the United States attend services and gatherings in churches, synagogues, mosques, as well as at other religious and spiritual centers. In nearly all instances, those attending worship and other gatherings have positive experiences. With that said, every week there are people who are injured in some manner while being on the premises of a house or worship or spiritual center. More often than not, the injuries are the result of something along the lines of a slip and fall accident. However, there are also an alarming number of instances in which a person attending a service or gathering at a house of worship or spiritual center become the victims of some type of crime, oftentimes a violent crime like a physical assault or sexual assault.
Crime in a Sanctified Setting
A woman we’ll call Margaret in order to protect her privacy attended evening worship services once a week for years. A retired nurse, participating in church gatherings was one of the highlights of her week.
On a pleasant spring evening, Margaret helped tidy up the sanctuary following services and was one of the last people to leave the building. She found herself in the church parking lot alone. The sun had set but Margaret didn’t immediately notice that the solitary light in the church’s parking lot was not illuminated. She had parked away from the church to allow available spaces for parishioners with physical limitations to have easier access to the church.
At the moment Margaret unlocked and opened her car door, she heard something of a rushing sound behind her that she couldn’t immediately identify. Before she could sort out the noise, a man with ill-intent was behind her and wrapped his arm around her neck.
There is no need to add gratuitous details to what happened next. The point that needs to be made is that Margaret became the victim of a violent sexual assault outside her own church on that spring night.
Criminal Prosecution of the Sexual Predator
The perpetrator was caught a couple of weeks after the vicious assault upon Margaret. As is nearly always the case, the perpetrator was a serial violent sexual predator with a pair of prior convictions for similar crimes. In addition, DNA testing connected him with three other sexual assaults in addition to the one perpetrated on Margaret in the church parking lot.
He was criminally prosecuted, which was a grueling process in and of itself for Margaret. Margaret bravely testified about what was the worst moment of her life during the trial of the assailant. He was convicted and sentenced to a long term in prison.
Margaret felt that some level of justice occurred. She took at least some comfort in knowing that at least this particular sexual predator would be off the streets and not harming anyone else for a long, long time if ever.
Premises Liability and the Legal Responsibility of a House or Worship or Spiritual Center
Premises liability is a legal principal that requires a business, house of worship, or spiritual center to keep its property in a reasonable safe condition. For example, if milk is spilled in an aisle of a grocery store, if a bottle of wine breaks on the floor of a liquor shop, the proprietor has the legal responsibility to clean up the mess in a reasonable time and manner to prevent someone from slipping and falling.
Like a business, a house or worship or spiritual center has a legal obligation to maintain an appropriate level of safety at its premises. For example, this will nearly always mean that a church or other similar location has a legal duty to keep its parking lot properly lit to aid in deterring harm coming to a parishioner.
If you’ve been the victim of a crime on the property of a house of worship or spiritual center, you are entitled to justice if the church or other entity failed to provide reasonably appropriate security at its premises. A church injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm at (800) 349-0000 stands ready to protect your vital legal interests.
A nationwide law firm, we can arrange a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation and case evaluation at your convenience. The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. We never charge a fee unless we win for you.