733-734: When Religions Praise and Protect Abusers
May 2, 2017
In this episode we discuss what happens when religions or religious people praise abusers in front of their victims.
In April 2017, Keith Robert Vallejo, a Mormon bishop, was convicted of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape, involving two women – who were both staying at his home at the time of the rape/abuse.
During his sentencing hearing in Provo, Utah, Fourth District judge Thomas Low (who is currently serving as Mormon bishop of the Valley Hills First Ward of the Heber City Utah North Stake), praised Vallejo as a “an extraordinarily good man” in front of his two victims.
In today’s Mormon Stories Podcast episode we are interviewing Ashlie. Ashlie currently attends a Mormon ward where a former bishop who has abused two separate victims who were both ward members. He was convicted of rape for the first offense has been fully reintegrated into the ward at the expense of his victims (who also remain in the ward). According to Ashlie:
After the former bishop served time in prison, wealthy ward members pooled a large amount of money to have his name removed from the sex offender’s registry.
He has been reinstated with full membership status back into the ward, and is currently serving as seminary teacher and as a high priest teacher.
Many ward and stake members have not been informed of his former abuses.
The victims and their families have been marginalized by the ward and stake for not being more “forgiving,” and for not “understanding the atonement.”
Today we will be discussing Ashlie’s perspective on the impact of protecting abusers at the expense of the abused, along with how this has impacted her own faith journey. Ashlie’s stories includes:
Her conversion to the church.
Her temple marriage that ended in divorce
Her inappropriate excommunication for drinking alcohol
Her rebaptism into the church by Bishop Mark McConkie (Colorado Spring)
Her re-marriage (elopement, then temple sealing)
Her experience in a ward where three successive bishops were excommunicated
Her “shelf breakers” and faith transition (which happened only a month ago).
This episode includes a beautiful shout-out to Kristin Marie (Bennion), so check it out!