618-619: Matt Long, Sex Crimes Prosecutor, Discusses LDS Church Child Abuse Policies and the Recent News Release

12596121_10201190869410032_595292777_nOn February 1, 2016 the LDS Church re-released a media statement originally released in 2013 entitled “Effectiveness of Church Approach to Preventing Child Abuse.”  In this press release (authored by Kirton & McConkie partner and LDS 1st Quorum of the 70 member Elder Von G. Keetch) the LDS Church claimed that “no religious organization has done more” to prevent child abuse, and touted their child abuse approach as “the gold standard” amongst all churches.

Immediately the Mormon Internet exploded with the stories of past and present victims of LDS-related sexual abuse, expressing sadness, frustration, feelings of invalidation, sickness, and (at times) horror over the church’s statement/claims.  For a few examples, see here, here, and here.

In this two-part episode of Mormon Stories Podcast we interview Matt Long — a criminal defense and victim’s rights attorney who has considerable experience prosecuting (and defending) perpetrators of child abuse in Arizona — many of which were within the LDS church system.  Over three hours Matt discusses:

  1. The methods of child abusers (including within the LDS context),
  2. Matt’s experience prosecuting (and defending) child/sex abusers in Arizona (many of whom are/were LDS),
  3. His interactions with LDS law firm Kirton | McConkie, and
  4. His reactions to the LDS Church’s recent media release wherein it claims that “no religious organization has done more” to prevent child abuse, and touts its child abuse approach as “the gold standard” amongst all churches.

More on Matt: Matt uses the skills he developed as a sex crimes prosecutor to protect victims’ rights and represent victims in lawsuits against offenders and institutions, such as fraternities, schools, businesses, or churches, that allowed abuse to occur. When he’s not arguing in court, Matt argues with the other infants on the infants on thrones podcast at infantsonthrones.com.  You can reach Matt at 480-833-1113 or e-mail his paralegal at kristin@azlegal.com with any questions about victim representation.

Comments

comments

84 comments for “618-619: Matt Long, Sex Crimes Prosecutor, Discusses LDS Church Child Abuse Policies and the Recent News Release

  1. Jarom
    February 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Thank you John and Matt. I too recently saw Spotlight. Every parent should see this movie. When I was a missionary in the mid 90’s, I had the responsibility of picking up a missionary from the bus station after he had been caught fondling a young girl while at a dinner appointment with an LDS family. The mission president told me what had happened and expressed concern over getting the missionary out of the country to prevent authorities from charging him, and to protect the good name of the church. The family agreed not to prosecute and the missionary was on his way home within 48 hours, to be turned over to his bishop for rehabilitation. I sincerely hope he never abused again. I believe he belonged on a sex offender registry. Also on my mission I had a female member tell me of how the branch president deliberately gave her husband (his counselor) time consuming assignments and then preyed upon her sexually. I convinced her to tell the mission president the following week during an interview. Ten years later as a member of a bishopric, I was aware of individuals in our ward that had victimized children and were not allowed to enter the side of the church where the primary met. Parents of the ward were not aware that a predator attended with them. Sexual deviancy is a troubling part of humanity in general and your voice points to the need to be especially aware of potential risks within organizations and communities. Thank you.

    • Doubting Thomas
      February 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      “The good name of the church.”

      Do you know how many times I’ve personally heard this statement preceding a wrongful act by church leaders? Dozens.

      We believe in honoring and sustaining the law… This troubled missionary should have been turned in to local authorities and be judged according to the laws of the land he was residing in at the time. That’s what the church teaches. Oh wait, it would have been a scandal so let’s cover it up. Lying for the Lord 101.

      Matt’s assertion that Mormonism provides an instant breeding ground for abuse is absolutely true. Anyone who has served as a bishop, stake president etc. is afforded instant trustworthiness unless they are just absolutely so CREEPY to cause second guessing.

      Be careful out there…

    • Alice
      February 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      I have many experiences of sexual abuse as an LDS child. Once I reached 8 year old, I had to be Baptised, into the church then the responsibility of the abuse was mine forever. I was scared, quilty, a sinner, a liar, a fraud, a slut, a bitch, a thief, there was no forgiveness for me. I accepted that this would be my life. I lived from one day till the next, I was beaten black and blue. My parents told me that I would go hell, and if I told anyone, that I wouldn’t be believed. And if they did believe me, our family would be split up, that would be my fault. The abusers were my own family. Everyone was helpless, in the secret. Helpless in its evil strength. In the meantime the abusers, were healing the sick, giving out blessings from God, all that type of work, as Mormons. I was physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually abused and apparently it was all my own fault.

    • Ellen McIff
      February 15, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      None of it was your fault Alice. I was a social worker for nearly 30 years and heard these same kinds of comments from many parents and children . Children do not lies about such thing! I hope you have gotten some helpful counseling or therapy . It was and is not your fault. Do not ever believe that!

    • Ellen McIff
      February 15, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Jarom, I hope that as a bishop you took the legal responsibility seriously to report said abuser to legal authorities. An abuser does NOT stop abusing because a bishop or high church authority tells him or her to. It does not happen in my 3025-30 year career experience as a social worker. And a missionary abuser is no exception to that rule, unfortunately Sadlymany sexual abuse perpetrators have over 100 victims before they are ever caught the first time.

  2. Cecile Palmisano
    February 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I listened to both podcasts. Very true to the subject matter and very sad. I was molested, later raped and when the Bishop became aware I was aked at one point if I would like to repent. I have lost almost half of my family and any hope of any reconciliation. Although this happened in the 70’s, I cried when you spoke of the Dragon at the end of podcast 2. My Mormon friends that I still have will never know my dragon. They will along with Mormon friends I have lost always look at me differently. I have felt it, lived it. Because of the LDS church, I have lost relationships, family members, I have been called a liar, I have been hurt far more by the victimology of the church than by my preditor. I have been told I have committed the only sin that is unforgiveable, by denying the church. Child Abuse is not short lived, I hurt til this day, The loss and the constant reminder that I could have been a different person. A more confident and less fearful person, able to do so much more in life had I not been victimized by my brother in law, the Bishop and later so many other people in the church. This is my dragon. Maybe someday I will write about it, I have so much to tell and so many people to show I am a survivor. I know God loves me and I have committed no sin. Cecile

    • melanie haering
      February 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you so much for your remarks Cecile. You are much stronger than your dragon and just sharing what you did, proved it. I am with you 1000%

    • Dominique
      February 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Ditto, Cecile. Ditto. Sending you some love and light.

  3. Paul
    February 2, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Can you rewrite this:

    “His reactions to the LDS Church’s recent media release wherein it claims that “no religious organization has done more” to prevent child abuse, and touts its child abuse approach as “the gold standard” amongst all churches.”

    so it’s not an ambiguous

  4. Anna
    February 2, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for this timely discussion. As a survivor of sexual and emotional abuse, I was appalled by the Church’s press release. They think the Church is the gold standard for preventing abuse? Well, the makers of the Titanic thought they made the gold standard of ships until it hit an iceberg.

    This type of chest thumping, self congratulation was incredibly disappointing. There is always more that can be done and the Church should really examine their PR department and stop releasing statements that are hurtful, ill-informed and damaging. Children in the Church are being harmed and we need to do more as a faith community to protect them instead of patting ourselves on the back for protecting the corporate brand of LDS Inc.

  5. Q
    February 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    If the church wanted to make it really clear that it does not condone abuse, dropping section 132 from the Doctrine and Covenants would be a helpful starting point. For the benefit of supporting victims, it would also be helpful if certain ideas and teachings from our past were to be explicitly disavowed. This would include the idea found in the Book of Mormon that chastity can be forcibly taken or the idea that one’s child is better off dead than having violated the law of chastity (see Miracle of Forgiveness). A proper disavowal should come from the president of the church in conference, not some letter read in sacrament meeting.

    • Kristen
      February 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Q: A thousand amens!

    • Ellen McIff
      February 15, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Amen.

  6. Angie Jones
    February 2, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Matt – Thanks so much for sharing your expertise on this topic. It makes me so frustrated to read this type of corporate whitewashing. I was really happy to see that you were the Mormon Stories expert for this issue. This is really a topic that the general church membership is so clueless about. I loved the idea of having regular lessons on abuse given to kids but fear that with the general lack of training church members are given that it could be poorly executed. I would love to see a professional given some time to teach these classes in primary.

  7. G-
    February 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    When I read the ‘news release’ my first thought was ‘ what is the church trying to hide’?

    It reads as controlling, manipulative, and is a true example of how the church leads. “We are the great and powerful Oz…” Just keep the curtain closed at all costs.

  8. S
    February 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Beautiful! And so informative. I’m determined to always be a “Dragonslayer”! 🙂

  9. George Corbett
    February 2, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    John,

    I did some youth group work with St. Francis in Orem and the background screening questionnaire was thorough, although it relies on self-reporting and a signed release allowing the program director to run checks with local and national agencies. I’m certainly not holding this up as a ‘gold standard,’ but it’s a model that was developed after many, many painful victim experiences, globally and over decades. I appreciate that most of your readers will probably take a negative view of anything regarding ‘Safe Environment’ practices from a Catholic, but like I said, it’s a model; improve on it. The pdf of the SEP manual answers some of the questions you raised in both episodes, as they apply to the SLC Diocese. Publicity leads to accountability.

    http://www.dioslc.org/safe-environment/safe-environment-policies

    By the way, I enjoy your work. I’m a non-member who works with BYU and UVU students, and your podcast has informed my understanding of them.

    Thank you.

  10. February 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Remember that this gold standard of effectiveness in preventing and dealing with child/sexual abuse is being put forth by an organization founded by a man who seduced fourteen and fifteen year-old girls in secret, who “married” other women while lying to his wife about it, who married other men’s wives after having sent them out of town, who ordered the destruction of the printing press of a newspaper that threatened to expose his sexual and financial shenanigans. These are the moral foundations that the Church is rather precariously perched on.

    • Kent
      February 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Excellent comment!!!

    • ABM
      February 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      I want to hear you, or anyone else on this forum, say the same thing about the founder of Islam and how it (his example and teachings) has poisoned millions of his devout followers, individually and as an overarching culture and society, throughout the world.

      Since we’re all in the business of honest scrutiny and truth telling.

      3…2…1…

      • Dale
        February 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Well, of course Islam has done that. But the podcast is not called “Muslim Stories.”

      • JC
        February 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        At least you didn’t say that what St. Ralph said was false. I honestly admire how people like you can do the mental gymnastics required to reconcile church history and the “good” the church supposedly has. You realize other churches out there don’t have a D&C section 132, right?

    • b0yd
      February 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      This is a valid point for context. Because today’s lds leaders_know_this, but excuse it, suggests they are already psychologically damaged and their objectivity compromised on this very issue

  11. Joy
    February 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Matt’s comment at 1:13 in the second part was the most insightful. In speaking of the sexual abuse incident that was trivialized with the comment, “It was just a little bit of a booby grab,” Matt said, “That was the reaction that some of these people had. All he did was grab her chest. That’s it. And I think that reaction does happen particularly from males, and that goes to the patriarchy that contributes to this. There’s an ability that males have, by and large, to associate with other males and to maybe give a pass than otherwise would happen. I believe that if the church had women who were in leadership positions, that would go a long way towards protecting kids more and would at least take real steps in stamping out abuse. I believe that to my core.” Kudos, Matt! It takes a real man to see and say that.

  12. February 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell Paperback – by Jack Olsen

    Many years ago I read this book and told friends about it. In general, many couldn’t believe that girls could be so naïve. This doctor would tell girls that they needed to be dilated and that it would be a little painful but he was actually inserting his own unit. In one case, the mother of the girl was even sitting in the corner of the room during the examination. This Doc wasn’t LDS but held a high position in his own church and was respected by the LDS community and leadership. Sometimes girls talked to church leaders but weren’t believed or taken seriously. Children of all ages need to be protected, educated and believed.

    “For twenty-five years, the trusted family doctor in a small Wyoming town had been raping and molesting the women and children who most relied on him. Mostly Mormons, the naive victims sometimes realized on their wedding nights the truth about what had happened in Dr. Story’s office. In riveting detail, veteran crime writer Jack Olsen tells the searing story of a small group of courageous women who decided to bring a doctor to justice — and unearthed a legacy of pain and anger that would divide their families, their neighbors, and an entire town Publishers Weekly: This masterful book by the author of Son, as much a searching sociological study as a true-crime narrative, tells what happened in Lovell when these happenings came to light: the community lost its bearings and the doctor was convicted of rape.”

    • Sam F.
      February 7, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Having read this book, I can tell you that it is sickening, and that the reason the ‘Doc’ in this story was able to get away with this practice for so many years was the culture of naivete that was foisted upon Mormon women and girls in this town (indeed, in every ward, or local heavily-Mormon populace). They were unable to protect themselves because they had no knowledge of appropriate boundaries, or that any boundaries should exist at all between an adult man and a young woman, let alone a Doctor and a patient. The ignorance the Mormon Church perpetuates created the culture that allowed this man to do these things, though this makes it no less this doctor’s fault.

  13. Stay Gold
    February 2, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for this. These issues definitely need to be discussed. Only that way can we change the Church policy of protecting their reputation and money over victims. Keeping quiet has been the underlying policy since as long as I can remember. As an abuse victim that was told to keep quiet by my SLC Stake President back in the 80’s, I can relate and saw this first hand. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to all those victims of the abuse that happened at the church owned Deseret Gym all those years ago. We can move on and recover.

  14. Celeste
    February 2, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    One your most important interviews, John. I’ll never be able to listen to Infants on Thrones in the same way again knowing Matt is the Dragonslayer! I don’t know if my bishop has the time to listen to this but I’m going to invite him to and talk it up to him.

  15. Randy Snyder
    February 2, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    There’s a reason that we, at Infants on Thrones, affectionately refer to Matt as Batman.

  16. Kim
    February 3, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Today I attended a training class for law enforcement officers in Cache County, Utah at the Sheriff’s Office taught by a Special Agent working for DHS, who’s name I am with intentionally holding. He told me that the rate of child pornography and sexual deviancy in Utah, specifically Utah County, is one of the highest in the country. And the vast majority of offenders are Mormon. He also told a couple stories of when he worked for the Utah Highway Patrol and he had individuals whom were pulled over for various traffic accidents hand over their temple recommend in lieu of their driver’s license, hoping it would get them out of a citation. Having been in law enforcement for over a decade, this was not the first time I have heard these stories within the law enforcement community.

    • SPM
      February 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Just want to point out that there is no such thing as ‘child pornography’ call it what it is ‘abusive images of children’ .The term ‘pornography’ denotes something consenting. Agreed with your other remarks.

  17. Dominique
    February 3, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I’d be interested to hear Matt’s experiences with families of victims who “hold the church line”.. who believe the abuser and refuse to listen to or believe their own child, when the perpetrator is not in the family or immediate family, and who is a “faithful priesthood holder”.

    How often do the families of victims defend the perpetrator because of the influence of Mormon culture?

    • Anonymous
      February 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Almost all families of victims defend the perpetrator inside or outside of Mormon culture. I found this out attending a class for abuse victims when I was about 50. Every single young woman in the class reported this. Until that time, I thought it was just my family who did this. I was abused by an uncle starting around 3 years of age. I must have said something when I was about 6 that made my mother realize what had happened. She about beat me to death then dragged me to confront him. HE left town for a year and when he came back everyone pretended nothing had ever happened, but I was branded “the whore”from that time forth. Then my stepfather started grabbing me, but I managed to fight him off. I figured my mother would really kill me if I gave in. By the time I was fifteen I told him if he ever touched me again I would kill him and I meant it. He stopped after that.

  18. Aaron Kestle
    February 3, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I found this discussion among other discussions of the legal ramifications of running a multinational business that is also an institution of faith interesting. In particular I found a comment in the second portion very interesting. Mr Long mentioned that many modern institutions routinely teach on the subject of consent when it comes to sexual abuse, being at the university now I can attest to this from personal experience. Mr Long suggested teaching such principals on even a primary level, which I for one think would be an excellent and empowering idea. However, I don’t think it is presently fathomable in modern LDS culture which from my personal experience appears to teach that we do not dispose of our bodies. Strict black and white morality which is prized as a transcendent element of LDS theology cannot allow in theory, I think, for people to dispose of their bodies without serious moral accountability and responsibility. Empowering people would create a more ambiguous morality or at least a space for a more ambiguous morality, forcing the leadership into tough discussions that would threaten their essential moral infallibility. I’m aware that I haven’t really defended this argument with any solid evidence, but it speaks to me from my personal experience. I would be open to any contradicting opinion.
    Thanks

  19. Dale
    February 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for doing this informative and thought-provoking interview. When the topic came up of individuals who had confessed going on to abuse other kids, made possible by ecclesiastical never having reported earlier cases, my mind kept going back to the asterisk issue that Benji Schwimmer mentioned in his Mormon Stories interview back in 2011 or 2012.

    Benji’s bishop told him he had an asterisk permanently on his record, and the asterisk was code that he should never be given a calling that involved working with kids. My impression from the interview is that gays can get this asterisk simply by confessing same-sex attraction. (I remember Josh Weed, the temple-married guy who identifies as gay but has never been in a relationship with or physically involved with a man, saying somewhere that he wasn’t permitted to have a calling with kids because of his same-sex attraction—was it in his Mormon Stories interview?)

    The thing I kept wondering during the current episodes is: Are bishops not instructed to put a permanent asterisk on these perpetrator’s records? Or is it there, but the bishops figure everything is okay as long as the perp isn’t working with kids in an official church capacity, so they don’t scrutinize the perp’s behavior?

    Such a strange system that demonizes people who have no inclination to abuse kids, but protects people who *do* abuse kids.

    • Doubting bishop
      February 6, 2016 at 12:33 am

      During my time as bishop I never heard of this asterisk. There is definitely no specific training on this- at least that Inever heard of.

      I really don’t know what the gold standard entails. Our focus for bishops was always don’t have anyone be alone with kids and try to have another person sit outside a room when doing interviews.

      • Dale
        February 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

        Thanks for the response. My understanding is that it’s like the annotations that can be put on a member’s record during disfellowshipment, but doesn’t get removed after they’re restored to full fellowship. The Wikipedia entry on disciplinary councils implies that the conditions for annotation (temporary and permanent) are outlined in Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops §6.13.3, but I can’t confirm this.

        Is there much specific training for using the Handbook at all (not just regarding sexual abuse)? I got the impression that it varies from ward to ward, depending on the bishop who preceded and the stake president.

  20. Michael Surkan
    February 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Are there any churches that handle cases where leaders are perpetrators of abuse well? I wonder if this is a universal problem across religions.

  21. Susan LaGourd
    February 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Wow, that was a long listen but worth it. I have personally witnessed the sort of mental twisted and cover ups that go into staying ‘faithful’. A stake president that told us a bishop that was beating on his wife was still worthy of his priesthood, while “acting in that office”…whatever that means. We had a counselor in our bishopric get caught exposing himself to little boys at the public pool. Later investigation revealed that he was molesting male patients when they were anesthetized (he was a surgical P.A). Our bishops explanation on why the call was inspired was that he had also been called to scouts and “the Lord was preventing disaster”. I still remember Elder Scott’s horrifying conference talk from many years ago (all delivered in sing song) about a daughter who came to a bishop because her father was still troubled by what he did years before (molesting her) and needed help getting over it…THE FATHER needed help getting over it. I almost hyperventilated during the talk..Good God! And the whole messages about ‘forgiveness’ and letting things go and not trying to remember. Its like someone is saying ‘nothing to see here! move along!” And our last straw was the creepy Sunday school president showed in our daughter…long and disturbing story there, that ends with us moving to get away. As a late convert (college) and a recent exmo (left about a year ago) I have to say the LDS church seems to crank out an inordinate number of perverts…at least in U.S…especially in Utah. I have been shocked. Porn, abuse, molestation, adultery, and general pervyness. This doesn’t even include the weird political fanaticism… I work in Efficiency Modeling and Marketing and I have finally concluded that the church is suffering from corporate culture just like any major organization. Apple was heavily influenced by Jobs. Jobs influenced everything from how presentations were made to how an office should be laid out. But it was more extensive than that.. People mimic his speaking style, words and even voice intonations and posture. Corporate culture is no joke, look at the speak and dress styles for previous prophets and church leaders. The group begins to take on the attributes of the founder.. which brings me to Mormonism. They don’t just condone was Joseph did as a pedophile and liar, they enshrined it into a teaching, a destiny for ALL worthy men in the eternities. It is a small stretch to go from justifying and deifying the abusive behavior of a “prophet” to that same person easily justifying their own corrupt or evil desires. Ironically the legal marrying age in Utah is 14.. oh Helen Mar. If you can justify something like that… Though the church is filled with good people and many people who don’t even know its history..it is also full of people who DO KNOW and have really taking those teachings to heart in a way that is dangerous. When I joined in 1992 I encountered frequent discussions about polygamy and spiritual wifery. I was told I wouldn’t care in the eternities because I would have an eternal perspective. I feel this is why Utah has essentially given a pass to all the polygamists there. Honestly they shouldn’t be called polygamists, they should be called pedophiles because that is what they are. There are good folks but church has created a groundswell of creepy men who believe they are entitled to the world and the women in them and not surprisingly some of them don’t want to wait until the next life and get ‘inspired’ now.

    • Celeste
      February 4, 2016 at 9:04 am

      “Pervyness!”

    • Aaron Smith
      February 15, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Well Spoken.
      The creepiness is systemic.

  22. KJ
    February 3, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks so much both John and Matt for taking the time to record this podcast. The information contained in it is fascinating and important and I wish that every leader in the Mormon church could learn from Matt’s expertise. Kudos to both of you for doing such important work.

  23. tori
    February 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    “At great expense, the Church is currently installing windows…” Great expense? Really? It’s all about money and risk of bad PR. If the church were the “gold standard,” no expense would be too great. Rather, if the church were Christ’s then its approach to dealing with abuse of any kind would be Christlike. It would be in support of the victim and one of zero tolerance because it would “be better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

  24. Rodney
    February 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    The doctrine that bishops and stake presidents are “Judges in Israel” compounded with the fact that they are not trained as counselors, in abuse/victimology, etc results into a perfect storm of bad. The same Spirit that is supposed to comfort, guide and testify of truth gives these male leaders “revelation” and “inspiration” about their respective wards and stakes. To entertain the idea that this Spirit is not sufficient or even real enough to guide them through these abuse situations one should also entertain the idea that the Spirit is not what it claims to be.

    • Sara
      February 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Plus the fact they are all men, identify with males, tend to subconsciously side with them, plus the fact that their authority trumps women’s authority so they don’t have to listen. Most women know people who have been abused (or have been abused themselves), and so have empathy and make it a major goal to protect children.

  25. Mike
    February 3, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Great episode. My childhood friend was sexually abused at the age of 13 and was forced to go through the repentance process while being treated as equally culpable in the “sin”. This was in the 90’s even though it sounds like the 19th century.

  26. Mark
    February 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Matt made a big point about saying that the LDS Church attorneys at Kirton McConkie are there to protect the church and not the children – otherwise it would be malpractice. That may be true, but attorney’s only advise the church. Ultimately it is the church leaders who are responsible for their policies and the actions they and other leaders take. They are ultimately the ones responsible to explain it as well. They don’t have to follow the advice of their attorneys.

    I tend to agree with Matt that reporting abuse to authorities is probably the best choice in most cases. I suppose there are some who genuinely believe that fewer perpetrators would confess if they knew they would automatically be reported. I just don’t think that the church repentance process alone will stop these people nor will it send a message to others that this behavior is unacceptable. Criminal consequences I think do that best. Let’s have a healthy debate on the confidentiality vs reporting to authorities policy. Matt made some good points on how abuse could be reported anonymously by a bishop without naming the perpetrator but only naming the victim. Interesting point I hadn’t thought of before.

    I have a neighbor who is a partner for Kirton McConkie. I will never forget when he said related to issues he had dealt in the course of his work, “I would never allow a young child to go in a bathroom at church alone.” I had never thought of that before and was quite shocked by that statement.

    • Dave S
      February 8, 2016 at 2:18 am

      “Matt made a big point about saying that the LDS Church attorneys at Kirton McConkie are there to protect the church and not the children – otherwise it would be malpractice. That may be true, but attorney’s only advise the church. Ultimately it is the church leaders who are responsible for their policies and the actions they and other leaders take. They are ultimately the ones responsible to explain it as well. They don’t have to follow the advice of their attorneys.”

      It is the responsibility of the top leadership to look at what is happening and provide direction, which they have. They have decided to sacrifice the well-being of the victims to protect the assets of the church.

      This is unconscionable.

  27. MrMarkHudson
    February 4, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Is it considered usual practice for a child or teenager to be in a closed office with an LDS bishop where some of the conversation is of a sexual nature? Are LDS parents really that trusting?

    • Anon
      February 4, 2016 at 1:09 am

      Yes and yes!!

      Once an LDS child advances into the youth programs (Young Women’s for girls…..Beehives 12-13, Miamaids 14-15, and Laurels 16-18. Young Men’s Aaronic Priesthood advancement…..Deacons 12-13, Teachers 14-15, Priests 16-18) they meet with a Bishop at least once each year, and potentially more frequently with a Bishop or a Bishop’s counselor semi-annually. These interviews are done privately for class and priesthood advancement, temple recommend interviews, and interviews to extend a calling like a class or quorum president. At the early ages, Bishops are asking questions about testimonies, faith, and overall moral and ethical sins that could include lying, stealing, and inappropriate behaviors including masturbation, viewing pornography, etc. As children advance in maturity and as moved upon by the Holy Ghost, the interviewer may ask more pointed questions about moral worthiness, sexual sins including masturbation, intercourse, homosexuality, and the overall spiritual and moral cleanliness of the individual. If a young man and or woman confesses to intercourse or other transgressions like oral sex, they may be asked by the Bishop to “return and report” on how they are doing towards overcoming such transgressions as part of the Church’s outline for repentance. These return and report meetings can occur at a frequency to be dictated by the Bishop, which could be weekly or monthly depending on the transgression, motivation of the individual to stop their sinful ways, and as moved upon by the spirit. The Bishop is known as the “Judge in Israel” and has a lot of authority to play a very active role in the transgressors pathway to forgiveness. As youth grow into adulthood, the Stake President may play an active role in the repentance process as well repeating all of the same pressure filled questions and one-on-one interviews.

      Just writing this calls out so many pitfalls and problematic “opportunities” for children/youth to fall victim to inappropriate and private conversations, or to be the victims of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. Each child matures at different time tables and so many are not prepared for questions and pressures put on them by a church leader in a private conversation. Depending on the church leader, they may dive deeply into intimate details that are totally inappropriate. “How often do you masturbate? Do you masturbate while looking at porn? How many times have you given your boyfriend oral sex? When your boyfriend ejaculates, does he wear a condom?” These are all too common occurrences and the more an individual confesses, it opens up the opportunity for the Bishop to further explore the depths of the confessors transgressions.

      It is an ugly practice and does not represent the “Gold Standard” of preventing child abuse!!

      • b0yd
        February 6, 2016 at 11:31 pm

        On frequency. As bishopric counsellor (as late as 2014) the policy was that a new temple recommended interview must be conducted prior to_each_entry to the temple. At a minimum the kids had to go once a month pretty well (Melbourne, Australia) and more often for the twice a year “Stake Temple Week” and other events. I once had to do 3 interviews in 4 weeks for the youth.

        I said to the bishop and SP this is ridiculous but the SP said that being kids they can get up to no good Any time and he can’t risk them pollute the Lord’s holy house. so interview them before every entry thank you.

        Those poor kids. We took them out of the class one at a time. I am absolutely ashamed of myself for being a part of this. I was very NOM…..I never asked anything beyond the words on the sheet, kept the door open where possible, (private voice distance) went to room with a window etc, always kept space from the kids. And even then it was awful. But still being a believer I read the questions

        Those poor children. I had a 12 yr old girl who asked “what does that mean?” about the chastity question, I just said “it’s really for adults and is mostly asking if they having sex with someone they aren’t married to” hoping she wouldn’t grow up feeling a sinner for her natural teenage thoughts and actions . I also told the kids that if they ever felt maybe they went too far with something or weren’t sure how to reply please don’t tell me anything but talk to the bishop ….. I’ll never jump to a conclusion as to what the reason they would prefer to speak to him (ie if you’re uncomfortable let’s not even start unless it’s a yes yes yes no no no yes interview)

        It’s just so wrong. These poor children, this is abuse.

        As a kid in youth 30 years ago I got lucky in the bishop roulette and we knew not to say squat as well. But we only ever went to the temple once a year.

        Now, to get the numbers up and convert the kids they make them go all the time.

        I wish I just said ‘Hey kid, do you feel good about yourself and try help those around you feel good too?…great, well done, see you Tuesday”

        But I didn’t. I read the card. “Preserving the sanctity of the Lord’s holy house”

        And this is a few months before our entire family quit and resigned.

        I say this as context that these kids are being exposed to a psychological abuse at the very, very minimum. From people with zero vetting, and zero training

        It has to end.

  28. Ben
    February 4, 2016 at 6:40 am

    What should a person do if they are struggling as a potential offender? Is there help or treatment for this disorder? Perhaps if there was more emphasis on preventing people from becoming offenders in the first place then there would be less abuse.

  29. Laura
    February 4, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Sexual abuse and the subsequent protection of the institution at the expense of the victim is not unique to the LDS church. In fact, a nondenominational “megachurch” in my hometown is being sued right now for this very reason.
    Contrast this type of response with the way our son’s high school reacted when the band director was caught fondling several of his students on a band trip: On the day of his arrest, police officers along with school administrators and counselors met with all band students. Parents were notified of what had taken place (the parents of the victims had been notified much earlier). The administration held a question and answer session for both parents and students. Students were given opportunities for couseling. Everything was in the open. As one of those parents, I felt the school had done the right thing by our teenaged students. Years later, our son told us that many of the band members had known “stuff was going on” before the trip and subsequent arrest. He says the actions of the adults in positions of authority had a huge impact on the students and to this day, he views the handling of the incident as a seminal moment in his and his friends’ lives.

    It is shameful that churches value the reputation of the institution over the well-being of children who are victimized within their walls. And we wonder why more and more people – myself included – are leaving the Church.

  30. worksoutsidethehome
    February 4, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Matt and John – -excellent interview! Towards the end of Part 2, Matt read the handbook policy on disciplinary councils, about getting the victim to provide a oral or written statement of the abuse. Matt made excellent points about how traumatic that would be for a victim. What I also took from it is that the Church puts itself/the offender before the victim by asking the victim to relive terrible traumatic experiences that probably had not been reported to the police or social workers PER CHURCH POLICY, so that the OFFENDER can get right by God and the CHURCH can assert its authority via the disciplinary council. Yeah, so the victim has to do the Church/offender one last favor to enable the disciplinary council through a damaging reliving of the event despite having been denied all support by the Church. After hearing that, there is no question in my mind that the Church puts itself first and victims last.

  31. Kelly
    February 4, 2016 at 9:29 am

    This is such an important topic! Thank you for having this discussion. Just yesterday I saw an LDS pin with a married couple in front of the temple called “375 questions to ask someone before Marriage” I couldn’t stomach to read more than a few questions, but one of them asked “Do you think women have a responsibility to dress modestly in order to help men control their thoughts and actions?” Insinuated, of course, by the nature of the surrounding questions, the answer was supposed to be yes. I was so mortified by this question and the negative impact this kind of thought can have when we are already surrounded by a rape culture mentality and victim blaming in the general media (books, tv, advertising) to have a religious fervor layered on top of that is devastating. My major professor was a prison therapist for sex offenders as well as an expert witness in sex offense cases, and he told me of a case where a man raped and murdered a 3 year old girl. His excuse, “she seduced me.” Just as Matt said in his interview about his own experience were perpetrators blame their victims who are still in diapers of seducing them. We need to fight against victim blaming, perpetrator protecting, and institutional cover ups, and this exposure is so important. Thank you again for this episode.

  32. Rob
    February 4, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Thank you John & Matt for this important interview.

    It is absolutely helpful to understand how abuse happens. Three years ago, we had a registered sex offender rent a house in an adjacent ward. His crimes were against young boys. Our cub scouts were combined with their ward. He was often attending pack meeting to “support his step sons”. He began repeating some grooming behaviors. The bishop and RS president of the other ward reminded everyone that we need to forgive and that he had served his time.

    When I discussed the details on FB, Matt was very helpful in unequivocally telling me that this guy’s behaviors were absolutely grooming. (The sex offender had his kid’s friends over to his house where he was showing them his fake officer badge and his stash of guns – exactly the behavior he used to groom boys for his initial crimes.) Using Matt’s strong recommendation, we convinced our ward to separate our cubs (since the other ward wasn’t going to limit his involvement). People need information and increased understanding of these tragic issues. Once people understand, they can make informed decisions. Our neighborhood is full of very well educated people and yet there was still an unwillingness to see this guy’s behavior as clear grooming. I was glad there were a few adults who were concerned enough to make sure their boys were safe.

  33. Anon E Mouse
    February 4, 2016 at 11:36 am

    In this interview, Matt is repeatedly incredulous about the idea that the church leaders would not communicate everything to and leave state authorities in charge. I do not think that Matt appreciates enough that the church sees itself as above the state (as God is above the state.) For instance, in the early Utah settlement period, church courts were used for all the purposes that we now associate with state courts. In my mind, it is obvious that the church would behave the way they do on this issue, because they really do think that the Spirit is superior than the specialized training that Matt alludes to and that their law is sufficient and/or superior. To many modern liberal-minded people like us, this is absurd, but it is important to understand the other perspective and realize that sometimes the church court is superior. (For instance, the church courts never mandated the death penalty, even for infractions like homosexuality, unlike many states in the 1800s.)

  34. Maxine
    February 4, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    This was a wonderful podcast. But, Mr. Long’s comments on “forcible rape” were misleading. Disingenuous statements shadow his many important points. A quick Google search will bring the following web site.
    https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/violent-crime/forcible-rape
    It is a terrific resource.

    • Dale
      February 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I’m not sure what the connection is between the link you site and your comment that Matt was making disingenuous statements about forcible rape. Could you clarify? Forcible rape excludes statutory rape, as he said. From your link, it would also appear to exclude any rape that does not include force or the threat of force. As Matt explained in the podcast, rape and sexual abuse can be committed by psychological manipulation, without the use of physical force.

      You are right in that he did not explain the legal definition of forcible rape. Is that what you meant?

      I’ll add something that Matt didn’t mention. FBI’s definition of forcible rape inherently excludes sexual assaults and rapes of males. The church shouldn’t be using this legal definition as a way to define the harmful impact of rape and sexual abuse, or to outline what kind of disciplinary actions are appropriate. By doing so, it implies that rape of males is not as damaging as rape of females, and that perpetrators who use psychological coercion are somehow “better” than ones that use force. I doubt that is the church’s goal, so hopefully the language will change.

    • Marcus
      February 4, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      You raise a great point. I would add that Mr. Long’s thoughts on what the handbook said about forcible rape were both muddled and misleading. He was indignant about how only “forcible rape” is mentioned as a serious transgression and not just “rape” (which would include all other kinds of rape, like statutory rape and date rape), but he misses the fact that the list that he’s reading “forcible rape” from (in CHI1 6.7.2) is not comprehensive. That section says “Serious transgressions” include, “but are not limited to . . . forcible rape”. Not such a careful reading, especially when it generates such a strong emotional response in him.

      Considering what he said earlier in the podcast, that an 18 year old should not go to jail forever and have his life ruined for having sex with a 16 year old (statutory rape, in many places), Mr. Long’s suggestion that only listing “forcible rape” as a Serious Transgression is an affront to survivors (which would include the 16 year old in the instance above) and present day “2016” sensibilities, is inconsistent and confusing.

      I submit that the current policy actually makes logical sense. By making the Serious Transgression list open and specifically referencing only “forcible rape,” CHI1 leaves room and discretion for church leaders to avoid disciplinary councils for 18 year olds who transgress with 16 year olds and also to decide that a 46 year old who commits statutory rape against a 16 year old has committed a Serious Transgression and should be ex’d.

      I understand the desire to get this podcast out quickly, so that there’s an immediate reaction and response to the re-released statement, but in doing that I think the topic and the listeners kind of got short changed. Don’t get me wrong, there were many thoughtful points made, a lot of helpful information and I think intentions were well meaning, but some of the guest’s key ideas and statements seemed underdeveloped and somewhat undercooked. For me, it undermined his credibility to a degree.

      What was said about confidentiality and confessional privilege as harmful to survivors; some of it was ok, some of it confusing, some of it just wasn’t true. And this idea that mandatory reporting is a much better policy and should be the policy of the church – yeah, that’s debatable. The fact that not every state requires reporting clues you in to the fact that the issue is not settled and that there is another side to it (a side not considered in the podcast).

      I didn’t know who Mr. Long was before the interview, but by the end it was clear to me that he’s an child victims’ advocate who (for reasons unexplained in the podcast) has a bone to pick with the LDS Church. Par for the course on a Mormon Stories podcast, I know, but usually John is much more upfront about the biases and prejudices of his guests.

      The last thing I wanted to mention, that I found odd, was Mr. Long’s interaction with the Kirton McConkie. He said he had a bad taste in his mouth after the lawyers from that firm tried use his LDS membership to “influence” him somehow in a case he was working. That’s strange until your remember that it was Mr. Long who volunteered that information to them. Why did he do that? In that kind of professional setting, it was unnecessary. He could have just said he had handbook 1 and was very familiar with the confessional processes and ecclesiastical policies/procedures, but for no stated reason other than he had to “shoot straight” Mr. Long revealed to the attorney that he was LDS. What signal was Mr. Long trying to send? How was he trying to influence them by saying that? Was he trying to say they could trust him, or that he was one of them? That seems manipulative. I mean, but he did get a special face to face meeting with one of them, so whatever works I guess.

      • Perry Mason
        February 6, 2016 at 11:36 pm

        Wow. Trying to cast aspersions on the character and behavior of a person who tries to protect children. Classy

      • Dale
        February 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

        I don’t think John Dehlin was trying to hide anything about Matt’s background. The “Infants on Thrones” mention was enough to identify Matt as an ex-Mormon for those who have heard of the podcast. He probably shouldn’t have assumed that listeners had heard of that podcast, but since Matt’s been a guest on Mormon Stories before I can see why he did assume.

        As for Matt mentioning his affiliation with the church to Kirton McConkie, people outside the LDS Church aren’t supposed to have access to the handbooks, so mentioning he’s a member is a way to explain “I am familiar with the rules you’re talking about.” I doubt it would imply they could trust him. The leaders in the church have seen enough that they should know not to automatically trust random members of the church.

      • Karen
        February 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm

        Re: Mr. Long letting the Kirton McConkie lawyer know he was LDS: Listen to the segment again. I thought he made it pretty clear that he disclosed this because he felt the attorney was trying to snow him on what the handbook said. Mr. Long disclosed his affiliation and his familiarity with the handbook to set him straight and stop the crap. Sounds like it worked.

        Also made pretty clear to me: You really didn’t like the criticisms you heard of the church.

  35. Diana Kline
    February 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you so much for this podcast. Like many here, I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by so called “righteous” priesthood leaders throughout my childhood, and it still amazes me as to how the church went about covering up those crimes. When I finally had the courage to come forward it was like I was abused all over again by church leaders’ complete ignorance, callousness, and stupidity. I’m so glad that this podcast was done. It is absolutely sickening and horrifying how the LDS church (and MANY other churches, for the matter) covers up abuse at the risk of “what will others think of us if this is exposed?” Thank you again, so very much. This is a subject that needs to be brought forward–not just once– but many times. Sexual abuse is nothing short of soul murder.

  36. Bob
    February 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    When the Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred, it took federal authorities over a decade to get anyone in the Church to cooperate with the investigation. Priesthood participants formed a circle and swore and oath not to share information about that day. I suspect, that like the Catholic Church, we’re going to discover that LDS leaders have a secret and sordid history that’s just as deviant and checkered as the “Great and abominable Catholic Church” that when open for public display will be just as offensive, as well hidden and perverted as any other organization. Given the secrecy of the Church and their interest in maintaining their public image they would do cartwheels to avoid bad publicity.

  37. Satanshellbox
    February 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Hey Matt/anyone who may know,

    The discussed news release mentions that the hotline connects local leaders to social workers who can provide resources for victims of the abuse, however, the podcast makes it seem as though it is a direct line to the churches law firm.

    Is there any evidence to support their claim that there are 24/7 social workers on the other end of the 1-800 number?

    Thanks,

  38. Shayla
    February 5, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Growing up in Salt Lake, I was repeatedly sexually abused by my well respected mormon father. When I was 9 or 10 I tried to tell my primary teacher about it one day after primary. She told me that all families are hard and then went on to tell me about squabbles she used to have with her twin sister as a child — as if it were the same thing. Later as a young adult I confronted my father. He admitted everything I accused him of and said he was sorry and would help me in any way he could. So I told him that first I wanted him to tell my verbally abusive mother himself — she would have never believed me. So he agreed and in front of me told my mother what he had done. Her response was, “It would have been better if you had killed her. I wish you had”. Thanks mom. I also requested my father go with me to meet with a counsellor at the U health services. He agreed and we went that same day and the first thing my father asked if what he said would be kept confidential. They told him that if he admitted to sexually abusing me they would have to report it so he said in that case he had nothing to say — and we left. From that point on both he and my mother denied anything had happened. I have an relative who is VERY high in the church hierarchy. My mom called me one day shortly after “the confrontation” and told me that she and my father had held a meeting with this powerful relative together with all of my other aunts and uncles to preemptively inform them that I was having a “mental breakdown” and that if I accused my dad of anything it was all lies. She assured me that my relative had made sure that all of my church leaders and my father’s church leaders were informed of my “mental breakdown” and “false accusations” and that he had made certain that no one would ever believe me. None of these relatives ever even asked me about it. My own bishop acted like he felt sorry for me and told me that “sometimes men do things that children misinterpret” and he was sure it was all a big misunderstanding. The bishop did however offer to have the church pay my private counseling bills. My father never faced any consequences and continued to hold positions in the scouting program and the young mens program for years and my siblings continued to let their young children spend extended amounts of time alone with him even though I warned them. He was their free daily child care while they worked. Keeping the free childcare was more important to them than protecting their children. Thank goodness I lived 1500 miles away from them all and had a wonderful husband and church-paid-for access to professional/ non church tainted counseling. Thank you John and Matt for shining a light on this dark corner. Surprisingly I stayed in the church for decades after this but I’m sure it’s no surprise that learning the truth about Joseph Smith’s young brides and the methods he used to procure them is what broke MY shelf.

  39. Joseph_P
    February 6, 2016 at 8:55 am

    29:35 from the end of episode 2: “I’ve just spoken to the first presidency and they authorized me to fly down in their plane to talk with you.”
    The First Presidency has its own plane??
    On a more serious note, thanks for this interview John and Matt. Regarding expanding the circle of the confessional…does that mean that the secondary and tertiary contacts (other leaders whom the confessor Bishop tells) cannot be required to testify in the event of prosecution?

    • MrMarkHudson
      February 9, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Regarding the plane. The Huntsman Corp allows high ranking LDS leaders usage of their corporate jets for some air travel. This might be what he is referring to. This arrangement has been in place for at least 20 years.

  40. beth
    February 7, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    hi matt and jon, this is a very serious matter and should be looked into just so, l do hope the church GA’s and Bishops begin to take this more seriously and that victims are heard because this causes such scars throughout a persons life. if it’s not dealt with properly and the truth needs to be known for healing to take place, it’s so scary for the victims.

  41. Michael Surkan
    February 7, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I found it heartening to hear Matt talk about how he feels that suspects deserve a good defense as well (and that he even represents them). I would love to hear more discussion about the best ways to balance the rights of the accused with those of the victims?

    Should we always assume that allegations are true? For example, I have a friend who tells me how a parent manipulated them into saying terrible things about their other parent during a custody battle when they were very young. The effects of those allegations have had long lasting implications to this very day (some 20 years later).

    I was a witness to the police coming to a park to question my own brother about his behaviour when someone called 911 when they saw him swinging with his daughter in his lap. It is humiliating to have the police treat you as if you are a possible offender in front of your kids when nothing untoward has been going on.

    How do we avoid destroying the lives of innocent people who are wrongly accused while ensuring that we don’t overlook abuse and let perpetrators off the hook? The taint of child abuse allegations is something that sticks with a person forever even if they were never charged or prosecuted.

  42. jon
    February 7, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    This was a great interview. It really put to light many troubling things. What would be nice to have resources for parents on how to talk to their children about this subject.

    One part of the interview that bothered me was that he said that he won’t let his kids do over-nighters. I think that is fine, if that is what he chooses for his children. But it bothers me that we don’t let our kids live life because we are afraid that something will happen. My wife told me that my brother won’t let his children play out front with the other children because he read once how a child was kidnapped even with the father outside with the children. Yes, bad things happen sometimes. But do we stop living because we become so afraid? I agree that we should do due diligence but at the same time I don’t mind if my kids spend the night at their grandmother’s, or uncle’s, etc. As for spending the night over at a friends I would probably want my wife to spend the night too.

  43. Anon
    February 10, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Some shenanigans in my home town, including multiple accounts of incest and physical abuse of children whose father’s held high positions in the church have come up in my healing practice. None of which have been rectified or even revealed. The men have passed on and left the scars on the hearts and faith of so many women.

    I also recall this high profile incident. I don’t know what the outcome was, but this man was a very respected character in the church and community. When these indictments came out his response said it all. http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/2000/02/03/178521-doctor-s-license-may-be-suspended/

  44. Monkeyking
    February 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I am late to the discussion but I thank you for having this discussion on a topic which I think is one of the biggest blights in Mormonism. I would like to add some of my thoughts on this matter which I do not think were touched on.

    When I look at this issue I see that one major problems is the refusal of Mormons to openly discuss sex. Everything is masked in vague terms and innuendos. How many LDS parents refuse to let their children even have basic sex education is school? My experience is that often victims don’t even know how to talk about sexual matters in even a technical way. When I was at BYU I was astounded that nearly no one, men or women, (other than those who took anatomy) had even a rudimentary understating of sexual anatomy let alone the emotional and psychological aspects of sexuality. The inability of the Mormon people to even discuss sex in a frank way contributes to the sexual abuses.

    Those who engage in sexual activity without even understand their own sexuality well enough to take steps to relieve their sexual and emotional tensions so they can control themselves in the heat of the moment often go beyond what they would choose to do otherwise. While such situations viewed individually usually do not end up in sexual assault or rape. However, when viewed as the norm of Mormon sexual interactions it provides an environment where sexual predators can flourish and pass off their crimes as “mistakes,” “just a moment of passion” or blame the victim. They are able to do this because most (if not all) of us have pushed the boundaries of our own conscious (church standards) regarding sexual activity and we may naively empathize with abusers when they make such claims.

    If we could learn to discuss sexuality we could then start to understand it such that we could then separate ourselves from the “guilt” and “shame” that the church imposes on us for behaving like the humans we are and recognize that although we may exceed the limits of sexuality we have set for ourselves that is categorically different from exceeding the sexual limits of another person (rape). If Mormons could do just that, rapist and sexual abusers would find a much less hospitable environment within Mormonism.

    I think the best instruction I have heard on navigating the sometimes murky waters of sexual activity and consent is to simply practice the art of obtaining consent through “dirty talk.” Say what you what to do and let your partner verbally consent to it. I think that Mormons ought to teach that as a standard (as opposed to – don’t do anything): if you don’t ask – don’t do it, if your partner doesn’t verbally consent – don’t do it (because even if it’s not rape, if you are not mature enough to say it your not mature enough to do it)

    (Sorry for the gender stereotypes, this could be applied either way but might obscure the point) I have often wondered if LDS women are comfortable enough taking about sex that they can unambiguously tell a man who was proceeding beyond what she consented to stop with no-uncertain terms. Some thing to the effect of: Take you hands off my 4&**#… put you @!($ back in your pants… no I am not going to $&() your (@(&…we are not having sex.

    The ability to clearly articulate ones consensual limits to sexual activity is important. It may not stop a rape, because rapists are rapists, but it would remove the ambiguity of consent that so many abusers hide behind and would curtail the unwanted activities of non-rapists. But if you are they unable to even talk about sex in a specific and open way how can you be that direct? Which leads back to my point that because Mormons are not clear with each other in their sexual activity it allows predators a safe haven. If we knew our sons and daughters were taught to obtain and give clear consent we would not have the tendency to give the rapist the “benefit of the doubt.”

  45. Sara
    February 12, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Thank you for this discussion. I found it enlightening and disturbing. It has pulled me far outside my comfort zone and I am grateful for that. Sexual abuse is definitely not something I want to be comfortable with!

    Matt mentioned teaching about consent and authority, even at the primary level. I teach 13-year-old Sunday School and I would love to have a lesson like this. What would that look like? Matt, would you list some talking points and/or resources?

  46. February 14, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    This came out on February 16, 2016 and is related to the interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A97odud60o

  47. Ryan
    February 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    The church is the gold standard? That’s scarry. My ex-wife has physically and emotionally abused one of my children. Utah DCFS was called on her by the legal system. He had bruises and witness at a safe place for children saw how she treats him so I had proof. I had been reporting this to her bishops and stake president for years before and after DCFS. And I’ve gone to my own stake president. Her priesthood leaders continue to stand beside her believe I’m lying despite the proof and refuse to do anything. My own stake president, who does know that I’m telling the truth did put in one call to church head quarters. Nothing ever came of it.

  48. Robyn Hammond Fearon
    February 16, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I have no adequate words to express the impact the second podcast had on me. I have a family member who is 60 years old, will always struggle with the scars of childhood sexual abuse and I will always try to help with their healing. The offender was a family member, a priesthood holder and was buried in his Temple garments. One point, though, that comes from the perspective of a woman, which I am…we are taught to view ALL men as “clergy”, after all they are priesthood holders. Regardless of whether they are current Bishops, they still might have been, could be, and most certainly we are taught that men are the “clergy” in their own families. For women, the lines of authority are clear and we are subordinate to that power. We are victimized by the choices they can make, even legally, that we can not.

  49. Abram
    February 18, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Ok what are the chances of a class action lawsuit against the church? If nothing else happens then would a class action lawsuit twist the LDS churches are to drastically change their policy to a zero tolerance policy?

  50. Suzannah
    March 3, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Wow, this podcast was so intriguing and so hard to listen to having been on different fronts of the child abuse situation.

    Our young son sexually abused his younger sister and as parents, we knew we had to do something about it. I turned to our bishop, knowing that he would have to report the abuse, because it was breaking my heart to do it myself. He did let us know he would report it and did so and then tried to be a support to us as we dealt with all the legal aftermath. Our son was removed from the home for several months until the state deemed it safe for our other children for him to return home to complete his offender program with specific safequards in place.

    While going through the treatment process with our son and simultaneously trying to provide support to our other child that was victimized, we found that the justice department and treatment programs in our state worked very hard to ensure the privacy of both our children, including for sexual offenders who were under the age of 14, which our son was. Our bishop, however, was instructed that he must inform others in the ward about our son’s crimes. He told us this would be the case and we were very, very concerned about this. We told our bishop that we did not want our son returning to the ward under these conditions and he agreed to maintain our privacy and allow our son to participate in activities under the same supervision the court required.

    Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Suddenly friends of our younger children were not allowed to come to our house to play, parents showed up to stay with their child during birthday celebrations, even in public spaces, etc. No one would say anything specific about it but it was devastating to us as parents and confusing to our younger children. While I do not blame the parents who felt uncomfortable having their children in our home, I wish they would have just been straight forward with me about it and we could address the concerns without all the deception. I do not blame our bishop because I’m sure he was instructed to do what he did, but I wish he’d been honest with us about it too.

    At a time when my heart was smashed wide open and I needed some support I became an unspoken ward Pariah. And I know it’s not about me, it’s about the kids, but I was the one trying desperately to help both my kids and was suddenly feeling so terribly alone. This was the beginning of a disaffection with the church, knowing that their main focus was the protection of the institution while providing no useful support to us as its members in such a difficult time. I do not blame the ward or the bishop at all, but I feel anger toward the institution that does nothing to understand nor educate its clergy or membership about the realities of child abuse or about juveniles who offend sexually. I will never give my power away to such an institution again.

  51. Jay
    March 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Coming from a family where there was abuse, I think you are wrong in wanting bishops to automatically report. You say “how dare you make a child make that decision” but you fail to see that if the bishop has to report, you are removing the child’s ability to receive council from a trusted adult before reporting. Talking to a bishop about it if the bishop has to report, would be the childs decision to report and you forced them to make that decision without a mentor or anyone else on their side if the bishop is the only one they feel they can talk to. If the bishop doesn’t have to report, the child can go to him knowing he will get help from an adult but isn’t sending the cops to the offenders doorstep just yet. It allows the bishop to then help the child see why they need to report and to assure him that they have an advocate to help them out.
    The bishops need to be counseled that getting the law involved as soon as possible is the goal, but the bishop should be able to council with the child and help them through it and help them prepare for the difficulties to come without having to run directly to the state to take care of the problem.

  52. W
    March 31, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    1) Without competent legal counsel, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER confess to law enforcement! NEVER, EVER! How can this man claim to be a defense attorney? Would he confess? Did he counsel his clients to confess? I seriously doubt he did, unless it was part of a plea. Thus the need for competent legal counsel. Repentance or no repentance, do not confess to law enforcement! They and punishment are not the end of society and they certainly do not fix wrongs. He says that the mistakes of the criminal justice system are not a legitimate reason to not confess. Well, what happens when the system makes a mistake? Is anyone held accountable? Can a person have his/her job, money, health, life back? The consequences of such mistakes are catastrophic! It is NOT worth the risk.

    2) There is an absolute legitimate place for confidentiality in a civilized society. Prosecutors and the state are not God. There are things that are higher and confidentiality in certain relationships and/or situations is one of them. Does he not have unquestioned, legally enforced confidentiality with his clients? What about in the military with a military chaplain? The laws regarding confidentiality vary from state to state so clearly people believe it has value and haven’t decided conclusively what to do with it. Do you really want to deny it between a man/woman and his/her legitimate pastor, or bishop, or legal counsel? Is this what you really want? Or is this just something you can pick at in the Mormon church? If you’re going to pick at it there, pick at it in the above relationships. I’m not siding with the Mormon church, I’m siding with reality. The fact that this man, who is a lawyer, prosecutor, defense attorney, argued this issue the way he did reveals one of two things (and likely both): he is incompetent; or, he has an irrational bias against the Mormon church.

    3) For you who are spun up about “a little booby grab,” what do you want a little booby grab to be? Do you want it to be considered as bad as rape so you can throw a Mormon in jail for the rest of his life? Of course it’s not right to touch another person that way. But leave it what it is. If you adults spin out of control over something quite small, what will the child think actually happened? Which hurts the child more, the booby grab, or your response to it? From where does the child take cues? Leave a breast what it actually is, not what ultra sexually-unhealthy Americans think about breasts, especially those looking to hang a Mormon.
    I love this website, but the duplicity is starting to drive me away.

    All that being said, child abuse is terrible and great effort must be expended to support victims and eradicate abuse altogether.

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