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Michigan Court Rules Teen's Confession To Pastor Inadmissible Because Of Clergy Confidentiality

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Pastor John Vaprezan's testimony was not allowed because of law protecting confidentiality between clergy and church members.
Pastor John Vaprezan's testimony was not allowed because of law protecting confidentiality between clergy and church members.

DETROIT (AP) – The Michigan appeals court says prosecutors can't use a pastor's testimony in a sexual assault case.

The court said Wednesday that the testimony would violate a state law that protects communications between clergy and church members. Prosecutors say Samuel Bragg, as a teenager, confessed to the pastor of Metro Baptist Church in Belleville about a 2007 assault of a 9-year-old girl.

The Rev. John Vaprezsan alerted the victim's family and also informed police. Bragg's case in Wayne County court has been on hold because of the dispute, and prosecutors say they'll now go to the state Supreme Court.

Prosecutors say the pastor's testimony should be allowed partly because Bragg was with his mother when he talked to Vaprezsan. But the appeals court says the mother's presence doesn't make a difference.

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