Document Type

Notes & Comments


Christian churches will lose an estimated $59 billion worldwide to embezzlement in 2022. Embezzlement and other white-collar crimes are property theft crimes characterized by the violation of another’s trust. This Comment names white-collar crimes committed exclusively by church leaders or officials “clerical-collar crimes.” Distinguishing clerical-collar crime from white-collar crime gives weight to and promotes future consideration of the unique problems that arise when church leaders and officials commit clerical-collar crime.
Although clerical-collar crime is subject to civil and criminal liability, this Comment focuses solely on victims’ experiences in bringing civil claims against perpetrators of clerical-collar crime in Texas and leaves clerical-collar crime prosecution and punishment to future study. This Comment begins by examining three reasons why churches are uniquely vulnerable to clerical-collar crime. Then, this Comment describes three civil claims church members can bring against perpetrators of clerical-collar crime, two challenges church members face in bringing those claims in Texas, and the difficulty of recovering stolen property due to the judgment-proof problem. This Comment concludes by making several recommendations to protect churches from clerical-collar crime and mitigate victims’ losses.



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