Religion: Confidence and the Clergy

A minister faces jail for refusing to testify

Ex-Policeman Earl Sands, Florida suspect accused of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl, surrendered last month to the pastor of a church he had attended; the pastor then accompanied Sands to the police station.

The prosecutor later subpoenaed the clergyman, John Mellish of the Margate Church of the Nazarene, and asked him to reveal what Sands might have told him.

Mellish, 32, the father of three sons, refused, invoking the right to confidentiality for conversations with someone he was counseling. Such a claim has normally been honored by judges in the U.S., but Mellish was sentenced to...

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