Speaking Out When a Mormon Bishop Abuses Children – Kolby & Cami Reddish | Ep. 1550-1551

Joining us on the podcast today are Kolby and Cami, a married couple from Idaho whose life and faith were shaken when their bishop was convicted and sent to prison for sexually abusing children. We discuss the moves the local leadership made that shocked them, including praising the former bishop in front of his victims to the entire ward congregation. This is one of the most important stories that highlight the LDS culture of conforming to authority vs following one’s conscience and the fallout of doing the latter. We applaud Kolby and Cami (and other members of their Idaho stake) for trying to protect children and telling this story today. In part two we’ll be discussing how these events affected their faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a whole.

After an epic retelling of their time trying to protect the children in their Idaho home ward, Cami and Kolby give us a look into how that ordeal changed their faith in the Mormon church in this epic second part of their interview.

Show Notes (part 1):

Show notes (part 2):

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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14 comments

  1. Listening to episodes 1550-1552 this week. I have some thoughts. For the Reddishes, the currently popular Disney song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” started playing in my head. People were mad at the Reddishes and the former bishop who contacted his former ward members, because people don’t like to hear ugly truth. And apparently the Mormon church is very good at teaching people outward ways to express resentment of those who tell the truth.

    Also, though I tend to be cynical and am rarely surprised at bad behavior from authoritarian people or groups, I was pretty surprised at the total omission of the child victims from the leaders’ requests for prayers. They asked for prayers for the convicted sex offender and his family. Not a word about the families and the children who will be dealing with the aftermath of these assaults for the rest of their lives.

  2. DIANE MELLING

    Thank you so much for doing this episode. I know how hard it is to be the squeaky wheel and my heart goes out to them. I appreciate the realness and the honesty here. When you go your whole life feeling like you are crazy because you question so much and say something when you see something, sharing stories like this is very validating and reinforces that you aren’t crazy and you didnt step out of line even if you step alone. I love that your cause is to give people permission to be in place of honesty that is safe and healthy. I left the church last year after years and years of negative experiences and questioning so many things and then I discovered Mormon Stories and it has made my journey so much easier and has made so much make sense to me. Thank you again and I wish The Reddish Family all the love there is and I truly admire their strength and honesty.

  3. This was an amazing podcast. John asked a question as to what it would feel like to be in the audience when the ex-Bishops wife was giving a talk on forgiveness. As someone who was sexually abused by multiple Mormon men I will tell you what I wrote down when you asked that question. “It makes your world stop spinning. It makes your body push on the gas(sympathetic response) because you are outraged and then the brakes (parasympathetic response)happen at the same time because of the amount of terror that arises in your body if you do speak out. This happens at the same time then you dissociate because your body can NOT handle the level of emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual. and physical abuse. Your body does this crazy dance. It bounces between fight, flight, freeze, fawn, and faint. The freeze response usually wins because the fear of the amount of power the authority has is so REAL and helplessness sets in.”
    That is what if feels like to be in the stands when leadership abuses the weak and the church ignores its victims.

  4. Creed L. Wait

    These are very interesting episodes. But here is my question. Once a sexual predator has been discovered, and once law enforcement is involved, who has the responsibility for searching out additional victims? Is it the responsibility of church members and neighbors to start going door-to-door looking for more victims or is it the responsibility of law enforcement working with Child Protective Services and Social Services? Interviewing potential victims is remarkably difficult and in most cases should be pursued by trained professionals. Some really horrific outcomes have occurred when untrained individuals start asking children leading questions. Children will seek approval by trying to give the expected answers, which may be entirely false. It seems to me that we need to let the law enforcement officers do their job. But if law enforcement fail to do their job, I would be unsure about the next appropriate step.

    1. Hi Creed,
      I think we were very clear about what we expected. We just expected a statement from the Church to allow parents/guardians to talk to their kids about any other inappropriate behavior. This is completely different from going door to door seeking out additional victims. I agree that it is a delicate situation, but this is what we expected. There’s a lot of room for reasonableness between doing nothing and going door to door interviewing potential victims.

  5. Cami and Kolby…thank you so much for putting yourselves out there-literally in harm’s way really-to share the experiences leading to your awakening. As a 25 year policeman who spent several years as a Detective in the Child Abuse Unit, episode 1 truly resonated with me. I appreciate the courage it took to draft that initial email to your ward, and I believe the way in which you crafted your message was as charitable, objective and instructive as it could have been; well done. I must say that episode 2 has left me envious of your relationship. I was serving for the second time as a counselor in our ward bishopric 5 years ago when I began to be bothered by certain aspects of Mormonism. Following my request for a release, I eventually consumed nearly every written material TBM’s are told to avoid. This I did on my own, contrary to the wishes of my faithful wife of 25 years at the time. Needless to say, I had the same epiphanies and came to the same conclusions that you have described in your interview. My deconstruction has been somewhat of a slow burn; stopped reading and praying; did not renew my temple recommend; then stopped taking the sacrament; then stopped attending church altogether a few months before COVID. At the end of January, my wife and I separated as I’m just having such a struggle accepting that she believes I’ve been deceived and there is no merit to any of the criticisms levied against the church and it’s leadership. I am now suffering the same fate as you are in relation to TBM friends and family; essentially, I have been cancelled; nobody writes or calls. I am still hopeful that things can be put back together with my wife and I, despite it feeling hopeless presently. So much of what you related in reference to the disfunction of the organization and its doctrines is precisely what I have tried to convey to her over the years. I hope that she will agree to watch your episode at some point to perhaps realize that neither myself, you or anyone who changes their mind about the church and can no longer support it, are not crazy, deceived, possessed, lazy, etc. I’m so glad that your immediate family is still intact and that you will be able to continue life’s journey together, unified, come what may. Again, I envy you and thank you for your strength in sharing.

    1. Thanks Shawn. I hope you’re doing well. Please reach out if there’s anything we can do to help–or you’d like to discuss

  6. Random question: when the hosts say they will “put that in the show notes” where can I find it? Thanks! And thanks to Kolby and Cami for sharing this horrific but important story.

  7. I have so much respect for Cami and Kolby (also Brian and Natalie) for having the courage to do everything they did in response to the utter lack of leadership and care shown in their ward. The Mormon church is a dangerous place for children plain and simple. The fact that predators are protected, and victims are cast aside should be shouted from the rooftops. Everyone needs to know that the church is in the business (literally business) of protecting its corporation at the expense of members. The comment Kolby made about how when members raise their arms to the square to sustain leaders, they have no idea of the role church lawyers play in the way those leaders make decisions in their callings, was truly eye opening. I wish I had known about that when I was still in and blindly sustaining leaders. I am grateful every day that my children and I have left that toxic environment behind.

  8. A damned old soul

    As man is god ounce was as god is man may become
    I’ve listened to this podcast a few times. I am familiar with the Nampa stake spoken of here . And in that area of Mormondom there resides some of the finest conservative people in the world . Not all conservative folks , hate l g b q individuals . We more than likely hate ourselves more for not understanding, where it comes from or how it has become so prevalent in our society. I have spent my entire life in the church, I have spent more days on young mens activities, than I spent on vacations with my family my sons and sons in law are all Eagle Scouts. I myself missed that opportunity as our scouting program in the ward I grew up in was ravaged by sexual abusers , one of which served as a counselor in our bishopric. But to me I enjoyed everything outdoors and I didn’t know about what was going on until many years after my mission. I also spent many years teaching gospel doctrine. I thrived on the notoriety that calling gave me .
    Do we think that Christ morphed that much in his time on earth that he completely left behind Jehovah from the Old Testament, the god who destroyed Sodom and Gomarah ? Why is third Nephi almost verbatim with the three gospels of the New Testament? Did the old god Jehovah die on the cross and did Jesus Christ literally become the God we now follow? Then what is wrong with following every word that he spoke? This temple building tirade is as crazy as this massive accumulation of money . We have always been taught, that we were given the spirit of the Holy Ghost, Moroni 7:16-19 teaches us a lot more about what we own outright when we came to this earth.
    I have been severely ostracized in my home ward because I have been too outspoken about our lack of transparency, the hiding of the truth, I’ve been threatened with excommunication. And well our stake was put on notice here a few months ago, that we needed to stop listening to anti Mormon podcasts, our stake leadership refers to podcasts as talk pornography. The more they talk the more people listen. Just like pornography, is it possible that Joseph smith had a problem with masterbation and that led to polygamy? It’s all well and good until people begin to Kill themselves . I’ve attended way too many funerals in the last 15 years . And I’ve come to understand, this church has to move on from the Old Testament. We must get away entirely from the mess that the exposing of truth has caused . This is no longer a puff of smoke at the side of the road this is an outright forest fire.
    My comments on johns podcast go back a few years most are just frustrated rants . I don’t know a thing about q anon nor am l a big fan of mr trump. He’s not conservative enough for my liking. I still try to live the word of wisdom as it was taught in section 89 , mostly I hope that some tiny aspects of the church are true . The 2 nd degree of glory sounds ok to me . I wouldn’t get on with my neighbors well in the c k . I also doubt that we would have any desire to torture ourselves by listening, to harrowing stories like the ones just presented. The best of luck to you two . You just became fodder for one hell of a smear campaign. Because you were brave enough to speak out . Remember Samuel the laminate? Well your on the wall and the arrows are in flight , stay close to one another, and damn for sure don’t look back.

  9. My daughter was also rejected and judged by her Utah ward for notifying other moms in her ward of. a teen perpetrator. After 10 years It is still painful today She’s tbm and feels so alone Completely unaware of how common this is

    Also thank you John for taking the lead in interviewing . You have the skill and insight. It is your unique and personal approach that makes the interview so interesting
    Cara may help behind the scenes but it’s much better that way

  10. John is open to advice? Please go back to the old page numbering system. This new “Load Older Posts” makes it unbelievably time consuming and near impossible to go further back.
    Thank you

  11. I have been where you are. I have been out for about 16 years now. You will attract people to you that have wonderful traits like you do. You will find absolutely wonderful people to be in your life. You will revel in your freedom. Life just gets better and better from here. I am sorry for the heartache you are experiencing right now. It will get so much better! Love to you. I honor your strength and your integrity.

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