Sunday, May 13, 2012

Defendant's Confession To Pastor Is Privileged

In People of the State of Michigan v. Bragg, (MI App., May 8, 2012), a Michigan state appellate court held that a confession to a Baptist minister of defendant's sexual assault of a young girl is privileged under Michigan law. Pastor John Vaprezsan elicited the confession from defendant, the son of the church's secretary. MCL Sec. 767.5a provides that communications between members of the clergy and members of their respective churches that are privileged when necessary to enable the member of the clergy to serve as such. The court held that neither the fact that the pastor initiated the conversation in which the confession was elicited, nor the fact that defendant's mother was present during the conversation prevented the confession from being privileged.