Monday, July 21, 2014

Ban on Sexual Exploitation By Counselor Survives Establishment Clause Challenge

In State of Iowa v. Edouard, (IA Sup. Ct., July 18, 2014), the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a clergyman's constitutional challenge to the state's statute prohibiting sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist (Iowa Code Sec. 709.15).  The Christian pastor involved, Patrick Edouard, was charged with having sexual relations with four women he had counseled.  The majority held that the statute did not unconstitutionally burden Edouard's right to enter into sexual relationships. It also concluded that the statute does not violate the Establishment Clause:
We do not find section 709.15 violates the Establishment Clause as applied to clergy. As the State points out, the statute ... is essentially neutral. It applies to all persons who provide or purport to provide mental health services.