Clergy sex abuse bill passes Alabama Legislature

Alabama Baptist

April 25, 2024

By Jennifer Davis Rash

The Alabama Legislature passed a new law today (April 25) making it illegal for clergy to engage in sexual behavior with anyone under 19 years old. Violations will be considered a Class B felony, which could result in two to 20 years of imprisonment.

Representative Leigh Hulsey sponsored House Bill 125, which mirrors the protections of another Alabama bill that prohibits the same for public and private school teachers. Senator Roger Smitherman sponsored the Senate version of the bill, which now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey to sign.

‘Thankful … for the courage’

“We are very thankful to Rep. Leigh Hulsey and Sen. Roger Smitherman as well as Senate and House leadership for having the courage to hold even clergy members accountable for taking advantage of minors,” Greg Davis, president and CEO of Alabama Citizens Action Program, shared with The Alabama Baptist.

“It’s a shame that it has come to this point of evil but sadly it has,” he said. “We are confident Gov. Ivey will sign HB 125 into law soon sending a serious warning to any pastor or youth or children’s minister that would groom a young person under their authority in church settings.

“For Alabama Baptist churches across the state, please use this opportunity to once again emphasize the issue of sex abuse,” Davis said. “We are now holding clergy members to the same standards as public and private school teachers. This was long overdue and says to everyone that a church should be a safe place.”

To learn more about the legislation, read TAB’s earlier coverage here.