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Torts Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Two suits were filed against the United Pentecostal Church of Eastland, the Texas District of the United Pentecostal Church (the Texas District), the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), Jonathan Mark Hart and Bobby Hart. The causes of action alleged in both suits stem from the actions of a man who allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with three underage girls. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court determines the appellants’ issues in regard to the Texas District. Appellants contend summary judgment was improper because genuine issues of material fact exist regarding the questions of duty, vicarious liability and retained control. As to duty, appellants claim the Texas District had a duty to use reasonable care to prevent sexual abuse of children within its churches, and breached that duty. Generally, there is no duty to control the conduct of others. This general rule does not apply when a special relationship exists between an actor and another that imposes upon the actor a duty to control the other’s conduct. Texas Home Mgmt. Inc. v. Peavy, 89 S.W.3d 30 (Tex. 2002). The Texas Supreme Court has found relationships between employer and employee, parent and child, and independent contractor and contractee, under special circumstances, to be such special relationships. Primrose v. Amelia Little League, 990 S.W.2d 819 (Tex. App. � Beaumont 1999, no pet.). The appellants do not assert any of those models exist in this case. Absent a special relationship, the existence of a duty is a question of law for the court to determine from the particular facts of the case . Greater Houston Transp. Co. v. Phillips, 801 S.W.2d 523 (Tex. 1990). In making that determination, the court balances the risk, foreseeability and likelihood of injury against the social utility of the actor’s conduct, the magnitude of the burden of guarding against the injury and the consequences of placing that burden on the defendant. Golden Spread Council Inc. No. 562 of Boy Scouts of America v. Akins, 926 S.W.2d 287 (Tex. 1996). The foremost and dominant consideration of these factors is foreseeability of the risk � although it alone will not warrant imposing a duty. The appellants claim they raised a fact issue as to whether the risk of sexual abuse to children within the church was foreseeable to the Texas District. The evidence appellants rely upon includes a portion of an affidavit from expert witness Gary R. Schoener wherein he opined that “all of the Defendants in this case knew or should have known of the risks of sexual abuse and exploitation of minors in church programs and facilities or as a result of those in positions of responsibility and authority utilizing that power to exploit young people.” Appellants’ evidence further includes the depositions of Nathaniel Urshan, the general superintendent of UPCI, Jerald Jones, the general secretary/treasurer of UPCI, and Danny Russo, the secretary of the Texas District. Urshan acknowledged, “there’s always a risk,” that he was aware of a risk, and that the districts had responsibility for the safety of the children. Jones also conceded he was long aware of a risk. Russo as well admitted he had been aware for some time of a risk if controls were not in place. Without any supporting authority, appellants seek to transform this general knowledge that such abuses occur into foreseeability in this particular instance. The record contains no evidence that the Texas District had any knowledge of allegations of sexual molestation by the alleged molester prior to his service at the Eastland Church. Thus, the alleged molester’s actions were not foreseeable to the Texas District. The appellants contend “the evidence demonstrates the likelihood of injury.” Appellants’ evidence is “that a child will suffer serious injury if she is sexually abused by a church leader.” This misstates the issue under the facts of this case � no one would disagree that a sexually abused child is an injured child. The inquiry here is the likelihood a child will be sexually abused, because the abuse is the injury. The appellants assert “the magnitude of the burden of guarding against th[e] risk was slight.” The appellants refer to evidence of procedures that Jerald Jones employs in his own ministry and that the Texas District utilizes at the youth camps it operates and contend “it would have been no more difficult to implement policies and procedures aimed at protecting children within the church from sexual abuse by church leaders.” This evidence does not go to the issue of “magnitude.” Merely because it was done in one ministry, and in the youth camps of one district, does not necessitate finding it would be a “slight” burden to implement such policies throughout the entire Texas District. Further, in both examples that appellants rely upon as evidence, the party in charge assumed a duty to control another’s conduct by implementing such procedures. But that does not support the appellants’ claim that the Texas District should be required to assert control, and thereby assume a duty, over the churches, ministers and members within its province. Golden Spread Council does not support the appellants’ position that public policy mandates imposition of a duty to prevent sexual abuse. Here, it is undisputed that the Texas District had no information from which it should have known of an unreasonable risk that Jonathan Hart would sexually abuse the appellants. The Texas District never recommended the alleged molester to the Eastland Church. The appellants also ask that a duty be placed upon the Texas District to screen all volunteers and staff. In Golden Spread Council, the Texas Supreme Court expressly refused to impose a duty on the Boy Scouts of America to “screen an adult volunteer about whom it had no knowledge and over whom it had no right of control.” The appellants make no reference to evidence in the record demonstrating that the Texas District had any knowledge of the alleged molester nor that it had any right of control over his activities. Therefore, in accordance with Golden Spread, the court declines appellants’ request. Viewing the factors as a whole, the court finds under these circumstances the Texas District did not owe a legal duty to appellants. OPINION:Per curiam; McKeithen, C.J., Burgess and Gaultney, JJ.

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