BILLINGS, Mont. — An attorney for the Jehovah's Witnesses is asking the Montana Supreme Court to reverse a $35 million verdict against the church for not reporting a girl's sexual abuse to authorities.
Last year, a jury awarded $4 million in compensatory damages and $31 million in punitive damages to a woman who says she was abused as a child in the mid-2000s.
The abuse was by a member of the Thompson Falls Jehovah's Witness congregation who was previously accused of abusing two other family members.
Attorney Joel Taylor said Friday during oral arguments that church elders handled the allegations internally in accordance with church practices. He says state law exempts clergy following church doctrine or practice from reporting.
The woman's attorney, Jim Molloy, says the church doesn't qualify for the exemption.