From: Rod Swift
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 03:37:29 +0800

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) -- A judge on Thursday dropped the Mormon Church from a lawsuit accusing it and a hospital of failing to report a case of child sexual abuse involving a church member.

The church and its top officials can't be sued because the church is not incorporated as a legal entity, county Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick ruled. The church can only be sued through a class-action lawsuit, he said.

A child and her mother, who are not identified, are seeking $750 million in the 1996 lawsuit. They contended the church and Raleigh General Hospital knew about the abuse in 1989 and did not report it as required by state law.

The children's father, James Adams, told at least three church members the he abused his daughter, then 4, and son, then 8, the lawsuit said. He received counseling but the mother, who divorced him in 1988, was not told, the lawsuit said.

Adams pleaded guilty in 1994 to a number of sexual abuse charges and is serving a life sentence.

Church spokesman Don LeFevre said the church is pleased with the ruling but "condemns most strongly abusive behavior in any form."

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