Today the LDS Church re-released a news release entitled “Effectiveness of Church Approach to Preventing Child Abuse.” We say re-release because apparently this press release was issued previously (hat tip Emily W. Jensen).
In this news release the LDS Church claims to be the “gold standard” for dealing with child abuse.
Sources indicate that Elder Von G. Keetch (sustained in the 1st Quorum of the Q70 last year) is likely the primary author of this press release. Linked here is an article penned by Von Keetch claiming that “The LDS Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the LDS Church’s approach is the gold standard.” (hat tip to Scott Holley).
To help gather more accurate information about this story, Mormon Stories we would like to invite readers/listeners to do four things:
- Please share links to any news media articles you can find on LDS child and/or sex abuse in the comments below. We would like to keep a running list of them in this post. A few have been included below for starters.
- Please share in the comments section below any experiences you have had with the LDS church’s handling of child and/or sex abuse. You are free to share anonymously. You do not need to use your real name and/or email address in your comments.
- Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing/able to come on Mormon Stories podcast to discuss your experiences with abuse in the LDS church. We are willing to interview you without using your real name if you would like.
- Please feel free to share below any concerns or disagreements you have with the LDS church’s recent news release. We would like to include your analysis in our upcoming podcasts related to this story.
We look forward to collaborating with you on this very story.
News Stories Involving the LDS Church and Child/Sexual Abuse
- Former LDS Bishop Lon Kennard sentenced in sex abuse case. 2nd story here.
- Son of local LDS church officials sexually abused 12 children over the course of more than five years. Follow-up story here.
- Teen girl was repeatedly abused by Mormon missionary in 1985 in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert
- Utah Man Faces 85 Counts of Child Sexual Abuse
- Two Men File Lawsuit Against Mormon Church Alleging Sexual Abuse as Teens by Church Leader on Pineapple Farm in Hawaii
- 16 men who say they were sexually abused as youngsters by scout leaders in Idaho filed their lawsuit on time against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Decades-long search for “Mr. Wonder” ends with arrest
- A High Priest’s sexual molestation of young boys for more than a decade according to a Portland, Oregon lawsuit that the church paid $3,000,000.00 to settle
- LDS Church fighting to protect bishops and against mandatory laws to report abuse.
- A Menifee Mormon bishop was sentenced Wednesday, Dec. 11, to three years in prison for molesting two teenage girls who attended his church which included “two felony counts of sexual battery and sexual penetration with a foreign object.” 2nd story here.
- Charges dismissed against Mormon bishop accused of not reporting sex abuse
- Important work exposing abuse from Lavina Fielding Anderson’s “Mormon Alliance” project, for which she was excommunicated.
- Former Mormon bishop accused of trying to lure teens
- Former LDS bishop pleads guilty to sex abuse
- Former Utah House House GOP leader and former LDS bishop Kevin Garn paid woman for silence after nude hottubbing with her when she was a minor.
- Boston mother sues Mormon church in abuse case.
My father was physically abusive to my mother and their five children until my mother finally left for the last time when I was 8 years old. I am the middle child of the 5, and they were married 14 yrs approx. We spent time in a women’s shelter, the cops were called, we were sent scrambling to neighboring houses during fights, and I remember witnessing the abuse myself. My mother has told me several times that she counseled with her bishop and was repeatedly told that these matters were private family matters, that my father was going through a difficult time and she needed to support and love him through it, etc. in the mean time he continued to beat and neglect his wife and 5 children.
When I was 17 I was molested by a ward member. When I finally told my mother she went to the bishop. I was never sent for counseling. And the man was never disciplined. The buck stopped with the bishop and he had decided it wasn’t worthy of following up on.
At 16 I had to visit with the bishop for approx 6 months because I had committed a sexual transgression. Every time I met with him, alone, he would have me recount, in detail, every. Single. Thing. I had done with my boyfriend.
Years later a therapist told me that she had a longterm sexual affair with a member of the high Council where I grew up. She said he would come have sex with her after holding court and hearing the detailed sexual accounts during the mormon court … and he would get turned on by retelling her the juicy details he had heard by the person who had been called into the Mormon court.
My bishop did the same thing… calling me in have me tell him “the details.” He was creepy and the abuse they put young people through is horrific!
This tore me up too much, and I couldn’t finish reading. All of my stories started and now continue to go through my head.
The bishop who knew about my father nearly killing my brother and told me I had done good by lying (and not telling investigators what really happened) and protecting my father. i didn’t want my family broken up, but I feared for my siblings’ lives. I took it on myself to protect them from my father when he was angry.
The fear and uncomfortableness I felt at the idea of doing a temple recommend interview with a bishop when I was 16, but feeling like there was something wrong with me that I didn’t want to do it.
The bishop who did nothing when my home teacher assaulted me. (At least he was aware enough to tell me it wasn’t my fault, but dude stayed my home teacher and I was told to forgive him.)
The bishop who told me my husband cheating on me was my fault for not being in the home more and doing my duty as a wife (i.e. Keeping my husband happy. Wink wink.)
That same bishop who took my recommend away when I told him he was wrong and I disagreed with him.
The bishop that gave me a book on communication when I told him my husband had thrown me into a wall, tried to strangle me with a scarf I was wearing, and told me I was lucky he didn’t kill me.
The bishop who told me a husband couldn’t rape his wife, because… HIS wife.
The stake president who told me God would never tell me to get a divorce, no matter what.
The bishop who told me I didn’t need therapy, I just needed to pray and pay my tithing.
And, the bishop who saved my life by telling me to get divorced (which goes against the handbook instructions). He also helped me get into therapy and eventually inpatient treatment. He studied abuse and abusive relationships, so he could understand and help me. One bishop that went against what the church told him he should do, because he cared more about me than about the church.
And that stupid hotline that would have told him not to get involved… Please don’t tell me the church as an organization cares about the victims. I was one, and the church didn’t care. One individual cared. Just one.
“And, the bishop who saved my life by telling me to get divorced (which goes against the handbook instructions). He also helped me get into therapy and eventually inpatient treatment. He studied abuse and abusive relationships, so he could understand and help me. One bishop that went against what the church told him he should do, because he cared more about me than about the church.”
Handbook doesn`t say that. Oaks gave a talk in GC back in 04 or so saying that Bishops don`t tell people to divorce but tell them to make their own decision on the matter either way. You see as you decide who and when to marry, then it is also up to you to decide why or when to divorce.
Handbook does tell bishops, counselors and stake presidents to do what this bishop did,… go to theray and inpatient treatment if needed, and get help from the help line if the problems are about abuse and mistreatment of wife or children.
I would say that this last Bishop was the one who followed the handbook instructions and the others, especially the fast and pay tithing one, chose to ignore what the handbook actually counsels them to do..
The handbook says bishops can’t tell people to get divorced or who to marry. They can support them in their decisions. I hadn’t made the decision to divorce, so his advice went directly against the handbook.
I don’t know what the handbook says about counseling, but I imagine it’s to send people to lds services if possible. Lds family secrvices has counsellors, but they couldn’t help me. Since the answer couldn’t possibly be “get the hell away”, all they could do was help me learn how to cope with the life I was living. So, the bishop helped pay for a therapist that wasn’t lds – which goes against lds ideals for sure.
I haven’t got a clue what the handbook says today but I can assure Bishops told women to divorce their husbands back in the 50’s and 60’s if the husbands were no longer faithful to the church. I grew up in a “broken home” as a direct result of the counsel my mother’s bishop gave to her when my father, a one time bishopric member himself, lost his faith. A church that claims to be the “one and only true” receiving direct revelation from the almighty simply shouldn’t make that kind of mistake, but they did, repeatedly!
I don’t know if that was in the handbook back then or not. I know bishops give advice to divorce – it just seems like they care more about if a man is going to church than if he is beating his wife or abusing his children.
Really it all comes down to leadership roulette. I was eventually lucky and eventually found a person that helped me. By that point, I was so broken, I was hopeful that my husband would kill me, so I could finally be free of all the pain.
My mom’s abuse went on for years because the Bishop told her that it would be wrong to divorce her husband. He also threatened that if she did, she shouldn’t expect help from the church with caring for her four kids. Sorry, but that wasn’t the only Bishop who stayed that this line of thinking was the “church’s position”.
You are so fortunate to have had a good bishop. I know ones who did more damage than good.
I was sexually assaulted on almost a weekly basis by my older brother. He’d take advantage of the fact that we couldn’t do anything but sit around on Sundays and my parents would nap after church. The week after I turned 8 i figured out I could tell him no. It worked and we never spoke about it. By the time I was in YW I had internalized the chastity lessons and thought that I was unclean. I thought I was never going to be able to “repent” because I couldn’t tell my bishop. I became suicidal. I was a mess. Every YW lesson became torture. In 9th grade I tried to slice my wrist, more than death I was looking for someone to ask what was wrong. My parents finally asked. I was taken to my bishop. He “said” the right thing, you did nothing wrong, you’re not unclean. But he didn’t report anything. My brother had abused me for years, lived with me still, and had access to hundreds of children (my parents happened to be foster parents). No one has ever been told. He is currently a primary teacher in his ward in Utah. There is no annotation on his record. The church leadership in our TX ward knew that he was a risk but nothing happened.
Another two examples I personally know of.
1) I work as a Sexual Assault Advocate in Texas. I was at a hospital visit with an LDS client. She had been abused the night before and had received a priesthood blessing from her bishop. The bishop had told her that she needed to forgive her abuser (24 hours after the evert!!!) She was very obviously struggling, her grief and stress was making things so much worse because of the words of advice from her bishop. This man needed training. The worst thing to say to a victim in that option is that they need to forgive but this bishop didn’t know that because the church never trained him.
2) Our Domestic Violence shelter serves multiple LDS clients who first visited the Bishop before calling the shelter. In both cases the women were informed that they were not being abused and they needed to respect their husbands. The lack of training for these bishops meant they didn’t even recognize abuse when they saw it.
There’s a lot of cover up in the LDS Church. Serial Abuse. The Boy Scouts for one. I know, cause it happen to me. I never told any one. Its still with me.
When I went to my bishop for my 14 year old interview to advance in Young Womens, my bishop described to me in detail various sex acts so that I would be knowledgeable about them and be able to say “no” to boys who would try to trick me into doing them by saying they weren’t really breaking the law of chastity. It took me years to figure out why I left that meeting feeling so dirty and violated.
Most stories of molestation do not make it to the news stands.
At age 14 I was exposed to what I’d now call hard-core pornography by a young men’s leader. This leader would often have me, and other young men sleep over, take us on fishing trips, etc. He would regularly buy us gift and pay us to help him with chores. He was middle aged, probably in his late 40s, never married, and had a history meth and other drugs. Looking back at the whole situation as an adult, I’m nearly positive I was being groomed for further abuse and I question if any other youth were molested. As far as I know, no one reported him. At the time I was scared of getting in trouble for looking at pornography and didn’t even recognize it, or consider it abuse.
As a junior in high school, my mother, who was in the relief society presidency at the time, permanently locked me out of the house. I spent the remaining half of my junior year and all of my senior year couch hopping, sleeping outside, in a storage unit, in my car, and just about anywhere I could to stay warm. This whole time my mother continued her calling in the church even with the bishop and neighbors being well aware of the abuse. My bishop, as well as 3 other bishops in wards that I had temporarily been in were aware of my situation and never once offered to help in any way.
“The Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more… the Church’s approach is the gold standard.”
Specifically, what does this highly effective approach entail and what is the gold standard? The Mormon Church’s press release seems like equivocation and makes me wonder what the purpose for this news release is, and why now. Where is the formal training curriculum? Where are those members over the past few decades who have received this supposed training to support this news release? In my years with the Mormon Church (I’m inactive now) and having callings in various presidencies in the wards I attended, I never received any training concerning child abuse. Where is this training on the Mormon Church’s website?
“Abuse cannot be tolerated in any form.”
Isn’t marginalizing children of gay parents one form of abuse?
“After a bishop assumes office, any credible allegation of abuse against him would quickly result in the Church’s terminating the calling and selecting another bishop.”
“At great expense, the Church is currently installing windows in the classroom doors of thousands of its meetinghouses so that children are never out of sight.”
Why would an omniscience god call an abuser to a leadership position in the Mormon Church if he was/is to become an abuser? Why weren’t windows installed in classroom doors starting when the first church buildings were constructed? Where are the proactive revelations, inspiration, and power of discernment? Why isn’t the church leading the way? It seems reactive and years behind.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes significant precautions to guard against abuse within its congregations.”
Does the Mormon Church perform criminal background checks with the state before calling a candidate to fill a leadership role or work with children? In my view, elimination of paid clergy and going with professionally trained clergy would be significant – this is the standard for seminary and institute teachers along the Wasatch Front so why not other local leadership, such as stake presidents and bishops? The members deserve the qualities of having professional clergy, especially since many pay tithing and other offerings.
“The Church has not taken these measures to protect its reputation but to protect children.”
Hogwash! In my view, the Mormon Church has taken these measures to minimize its liability and protect its reputation AS WELL AS to protect children. Where are public apologies from church leaders to those people who have been abused and bullied?
I was sexually abused by an older brother when I was 9 years old. When I went into YW at age 12, I was taught that all sexual sin had to be confessed to the bishop to be considered morally clean and receive a temple recommend to do baptisms for the dead. Because I was over the age of accountability when the abuse happened, I thought that somehow it must have been my fault. My dad was also in the bishopric and I was sure the bishop would tell him if I confessed and my dad would kick then my brother out of the house. I would then be responsible for breaking up our family.
I was terrified but so glad to finally “confess” this horrible sin to my BYU bishop in a temple recommend interview prior to getting married. I had carried the burden for so long and I desperately wanted to be forgiven so I could be pure and qualify in every way to begin this new life with my husband as we were married in the temple.
The bishop asked me “Are you morally clean?” With my voice trembling I told the bishop what had happened to me. The bishop’s first angry words to me were “Why did you lie to your home ward’s bishop when he asked if you were morally clean?!” I sputtered my fears about my dad being in the bishopric, my family breaking up because of me etc. He then accusingly asked “Have you forgiven your brother?” I had never previously in my life said the words out loud, let alone considered if I’d forgiven my abuser, I hadn’t yet processed any of it. I told him I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d forgiven him. He then said “I’ll sign your recommend if you PROMISE me that you will forgive your brother.” I was getting married in two weeks, what else could I do except to say ok, I would try to forgive.
On my wedding day I knew I hadn’t yet forgiven my brother so I still felt unworthy and like I was defiling the temple by my presence there. I had felt the same unworthiness as I was forced to lie in answering the same temple recommend question “Are you morally clean?” throughout my youth so I could go to baptisms for the dead. Each time I felt my very presence was defiling the temple and driving out the spirit on every youth temple trip and now the same was happening on my wedding day. It was devastating.
I received no absolution from that BYU bishop but, instead, I was accused and condemned for having experienced childhood sexual abuse at 9 years old. The bishop didn’t say the abuse wasn’t my fault nor did he give me the resources to process the abuse. The sexual abuse what bad enough in it’s own right, it was then compounded by the ecclesiastical abuse.
NO ONE should feel that way and I’m still dealing with the ramifications.
My sister was repeatedly raped by her bishop when she was a few months shy of her 15th birthday. It continued for years. He was never disciplined for it. The ward members blamed my sister. They said that my sister was the bad person. Even when my sister begged to come back home, my mother said No that she was to do what the bishop wanted.
My sister could not live with the pain anymore and took her life on Christmas.
Oh my heart Pattie. I am so sorry for your loss.
A friend went to her bishop after her husband start physical abusing their infant daughter. When her daughter was just a few days old, her husband bent back her daughter’s wrist until her daughter was screaming and she was trying to wrest the child out of his grasp. Her husband said he “just wanted to see how far I could bend her wrist back.” In another incident, her husband admitted to putting his hand over the infant’s mouth “to see if he could make her stop breathing.” After telling the bishop of these incidents, she asked for permission to leave him to keep the baby safe. Her bishop said he could not encourage that because she needed to keep working on her marriage. She was only able to leave the situation and flee with the baby with the help of her parents. This was never reported to authorities. She is now remarried but not in the temple because she has not been granted a temple divorce. Her abusive ex-husband is now sealed to his second wife.
My sisters bishop(in California) is currently serving a prison sentence for molesting and raping the Yw with foreign objects. He molested them while he was bishop. I believe he had also been molesting girls before being called to be bishop. This begs the question, “why would God call, through the power of the priesthood and divine inspiration” a man who molests and rapes children, and put him in a position to have free reign and no accountability. And also to ask the ward members to submit to him as he is their judge in Israel?
Another example in from the news is the sexual abuse by the wife of former Maricopa County Supervisor, Fulton Brick. This is notable because the Brocks were rich and socially and politically connected in the local LDS power scene. Two bishops were aware of the abuse, but it was the mother of the victim’s girlfriend who finally called the police! The investigating officer recommended that the bishops be charged, but of course, no charges were filed due to the LDS influence in the area. Here’s a link to an article on the abuse:
I was about 13 or 14 when I was in an interview with the bishop for a temple trip. This was when you needed an interview for every trip and they did not last a year. I was going to confess that I had masturbated. I had not known the name of what I was doing or that it was wrong until hearing about it from conversations with my mom. I went in with the thought that I would feel better about what I had been doing and it took a lot of psyching myself up to be able to tell him. After i confessed, I was expecting words of comfort and that I would be forgiven. Instead, what I got was, “what did it involve, how did you do it?” I guess since I was female, he did not know how such things worked. I was totally shocked at the response. I started crying and could not look him in the face. He kept pressing me for details and a voice started screaming in my head to say nothing. My shock kept me from saying anything else. This was a man that I remember coming to the primary and reading stories to the us during sharing time, playing pranks on the kids during Halloween parties. The stories were something we all looked forward to. I left there feeling dirty and with the thought that I would never confess anything to any bishop again. I blocked this memory for a long time and only within the last 2 years has it come back to me. I will now never allow my children to be alone with anyone for an interview, ever. I recently told my mother about the incident and she asked me why I never told her about it and my response was I had been taught that the bishop was special and would never do anything wrong. Priesthood leaders were supposed to be called of god and always have the right answers. His response made no sense in my mind and I did not know who else I could go to so I never did.
Phoenix 37th ward in the 70’s was a hotbed of criminal child abuse. No man – or woman! – was ever pulled out of the home and away from their children, grandchildren or foster children (or Lamanite foster-daughter) by the influence of the church. Those that got help, got help on their own through school counselors or the state. That wasn’t my only ward (Air Force brat) but my experience was the same. Everyone knew but no one helped. The church should never have opened this particular can of worms…
Was that in the Phoenix North Stake?
I was sexual abused at age 5 by a family member, and I went to my parents and told them. My parents honestly didn’t really know what to do, so they went to my bishop. My bishop did call child protective services after their interview and a few days later the family member was taken away by police. Honestly I was so young and it was really hard and a bit traumatizing to see my close family member be taken away and forced to live some where else. My parents wanted to deal with the problem themselves instead, calling the police never came to mind for their mind I don’t think, so if the bishop never got involved than child protective services probably wouldn’t never came. I do think their needs be a lot more education on sexual abuse in the church though, because I think it should be common knowledge to call protective services once you find out about a sexual abuse act and apparently to my parents, that wasn’t common knowledge.
Church lawyers claimed a first amendment right to wipe the slate clean for any member who commits a sex crime and later repents-https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/child-abuse-cover-up-costs-mormon-church-3-million-71939217.html
a convicted sex offender is released from prison after the chair of the Utah Board of pardons discovers he wants to serve a mission. Local leaders escalating up to Q 70 John Groberg (upon whose mission the movie “The Other Side Of Heaven” was based) asks the father of the victim, a 6 year old, if he will not give his leave to peaceably allow the molester to serve a mission. the church withdraws the call after the father finds the perpetrator registered at the Provo missionary training Center on the sex offender registry –
and then there is the story of my family in which a 14-year-old stepbrother molested my six-year-old sister. Shewas made to keep it a secret, and suffer further intermittent molestation over the course of three or four years. the perpetrator was called on a mission and she finally felt safe enough to come out. When she did the bishop and stake president admitted that he had not confessed to this sin , but there was no effort to recall him from his mission. he returned two years later “with honor.”
attempts at prosecution, even with ample, and damning evidence, were unsuccessful, possibly do to ecclesiastical interference with the process of prosecution -I was young at the time so I wasn’t privy to all the proceedings but I clearly remember my father telling me how the cache county prosecutor broke down to tears in his own office admitting that he was often threatened, by his stake president, with excommunication if he was to pursue prosecution in many cases similar to ours.
A letter sent to Thomas S Monson-then the second counselor in the presidency – was returned by his office with the advice to forgive and forget. My father’s temple recommend was withheld from him because he harbored too much anger in his heart , and the stake president prophesied against him that if he continued to pursue prosecution that his family would be destroyed. The perpetrator never faced charges, Never received therapy, Or rehabilitation for his actions.
As an 8 year old I had a sleep over at another girls house in my ward,everything was great until about 7pm when here Dad got home from work. We were playing a board game when he burst into her room yelling and throwing her stuff about. He then dragged her into his room and I could hear her screaming. I called my parents just like they had taugh me if I was ever not comfortable staying at someones house and told my Dad what was happening. He came and got me straight away. I left without them knowing. On the way home we stopped at the bishops house (who also happened to be the girls maternal Grandfather) and my Dad had me recount what happened. The bishop lost it! Called me a liar and asked us to leave.
The whole ward knew about the sexual and physical abuse but everyone ignored it. My parents called the police and child services but nothing was ever proven. The girls mother then made my life a living hell! All through primary and youth she would spread rumours about me and made sure I was excluded from social activities with the other kids she even went as far the oppose me being called as laural president in sacrement meeting . It all came to a head at a youth dance just before I turned 18 when she was on the stake YW presidency and took youth in another room one by one telling them personal information about me and lies that i had apparently been telling everyone about the youth. My sister got wind of what was going on and she confronted her only to have her say to my sister “shes lying to you too”.
My parents called a meeting with the stake president who told them “how do you know shes not making it all up?’ And “the lord wouldn’t allow something lie that to happen unbeknown to leadership”.
When the girl went away to college she got heavy into drugs,dropped out and became a stripper. Only after she ended up in rehab did she admit to abuse physical and sexual abusefrom not just her Dad but her uncle and older male cousins that her grandparents and mother (who are still serving in church leadership) where aware and did nothing.
Sounds like the family surname might begin with the letter ‘B’ ?……………
When I was 14, I finally went to my Bishop about the physical and emotional abuse that my father was inflecting on our family. He made me read Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. ” He informed me that it must be my fault that I was being beat to the point that I had bruises. That there must be things that I need to repent of. If I didn’t repent that I would be punished by not only my father, but God. My father was a “Godly man that helped others”. That is when I lost my trust in God, the priesthood, and most men. Soon after that, my dad threw a knife at me and I brought my arm across my body to deflect it. If I hadn’t, it would have gone into the area by my heart. I still carry the scar, inside and out.
Some might say these stories are anecdotal and don’t prove anything. When the stories start piling up, and the numbers climb, there is weight in the combined testimony. I know soooo many girls and women (and a couple of men) who have been abused by priesthood holders.
1. My best friend in high school was repeatedly sexually abused by her active brothers. Nothing was ever done about it. This same friend was raped by her boyfriend, and later, when she transgressed with her fiancé, she was subjected to a disciplinary council of fifteen men alone in the High Council room who asked her questions like, “Did he take your bra off?” She was disfellowshipped.
2. My roommate sexually abused by her active grandfather.
3. Several other roommates sexually harassed and abused by priesthood leaders.
4. Several friends abused by neighbor boys or cousins or uncles.
5. I was inappropriately touched by my active soon-to-be missionary brother.
6. A young man at his missionary interview with the Stake President being told, in graphic detail, all the ways one can transgress sexually and being asked if he did any of those things.
7. A man who was repeatedly forced to engage in oral sex with a member of the bishopric at the church when he was only 6.
8. A woman I visit taught who was having marital struggles and the bishop asked her detailed questions about her sex life.
9. A woman who was raped by her grandfather which resulted in a child. The grandfather went to prison (no way to hide that one) and he was still buried in his temple clothes.
10. An aunt who was abused at the age of four by her twelve-year-old brother, my father. He confessed to the bishop, nothing was ever done to help her. No apology. When she confronted him in their elderly years, he said, “You didn’t say ‘no.'”
11. A niece who was sexually abused by a fifteen-year-old boy in the ward during Sacrament Meeting. The bishop was immediately informed and the next week this boy was ushering at Sacrament Meeting. Nothing was ever done about it.
12. And the THOUSANDS of women (and men, I’m sure) who have been subjected to detailed, invasive questions about their sexuality alone in an office with a middle-aged man. I personally know dozens of stories of women and girls who were asked questions by the bishop like, “Did you have an orgasm?”
13. And the church essay which excused the marriage of Joseph Smith with a fourteen-year-old girl maintaining that God commanded it. Hundreds of women and young girls were subjected to being “given” in marriage to men many years older than them, men they didn’t love, all because they were told God “commanded” it. I used to type genealogical records and was horrified to record the marital history of one sixty-year-old man who married a sixteen-year-old girl as his plural wife. She died in childbirth. A year later he married her fifteen-year-old sister. That is sexual abuse.
The “gold standard” of preventing child abuse? This church has historically and systemically fostered an environment of abuse and covered it up for decades.
I was born in the covenant along with my three other siblings. We were raised actively in the church and many of my family members are still active members.
My father was psychologically, spiritually, financially, and physically abusive to my mother and us kids. In order to keep us isolated, he moved us around a lot (probably every 6-12 months) growing up. He moved us all over Western Canada. By the time I was 18, I’d lived in more places than I was old, although in my teens we finally settled in the Cardston, Alberta, Canada area.
As you can imagine, living in that many places meant I had that many different Bishops and assorted church leaders. I can still remember being a small child, going with my mother and my siblings into the Bishop’s office for her to meet the new Bishop and ask for his help. It was almost like a ritual at that point. She wander hesitantly in, four small kids in tow, and shortly thereafter burst into sobs. Things were not good at home. Her husband abused her and the kids. And EVERY. SINGLE. BISHOP gave the same damn speech: “He is your eternal companion. This is a trial of your faith. God has a bigger plan for you, you just have to be patient, pray, and trust in the lord”
The meetings would always wrap up with giving her a blessing that told her God was aware of her trials and pain and would bring her comfort and peace. That she needed to be patient and trust in God because she had made a commitment to her spouse and to God and her family for “time and all eternity”.
My dad was a long-haul trucker, so he would often be gone for months at a time, and while he was away, I can’t recall a single family prayer where my mom or one of us kids didn’t beg god to soften my dad’s heart and bless him with the spirit so he can become the man he should be.
As I came into my teens, I began to better understand how twisted my family life was and eventually tried to move out. Originally, a friend’s grandparents had taken me in; however, shortly after, my Bishop convinced me it was best if I moved in with his wife and him and as my “spiritual leader”, at the time, I believed he knew better, so I moved in.
It wasn’t long after that my father began to easily manipulate my Bishop into believing the only way to repair the family is if I moved home. He promised he would go to counseling if I did, so eventually my Bishop sat me down and told me it was time to go home. Feeling I didn’t have any support and was backed into a corner, I moved home. Needless to say the abuse continued and my dad went to counseling a whopping 3 times before deciding it was “dumb” and quitting.
When I was about 23, I reconnected with an estranged aunt on my fathers side. She shared with me some pretty gut-wrenching history where my father was concerned. He had been involved with gangs and drugs and violence from a very young age (15?). When he was 18, he went to prison for tying up and torching an elderly couple while him and his buddies robbed them. The elderly man nearly died when his heart gave out.
After doing some further digging, I discovered while in prison, my father was clinically diagnosed a sociopath after a psych evaluation. It was the first time in my life anything regarding my father ever made sense.
When the LDS church says, “The LDS Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the LDS Church’s approach is the gold standard.” I SAY, “after 20+ Bishops knew of a history of abuse and a criminal record, and never intervened when the wife and children of that man begged for their help, I’d sure like to know what LDS church leaders are snorting because that sh*t must be GOOD!”
In all seriousness, I know many more stories like mine. The LDS church has a HORRIBLE track record of covering up and denying abuse. My father was even called to PRIMARY for a time – how disturbing is that?
I also think my story removes any credibility to the church’s claim that their leaders are “inspired”. 20 something of them convinced themselves that “eternity” and “temple covenants” justified spousal and child abuse. You just can’t get any farther from “inspired”.
When I was 11 years old a family in the Ward who had a son my age took in a drifter, a single man in his thirties, from New York. During a Fast and Testimony Meeting he rambled and prophesied in a really strange and illegible way that left us feeling very uncomfortable and wondering about his stability. It bothered me to be around him. He was called by the Bishop to be the Assistant Scout Master and on my very first scout camp at 11 years old he positioned himself right next to me in a large group tent. During the night I awoke to being fondled and stroked by him. I froze in fear and endured what he dispensed until he finished which left me horrified, confused and ridden with guilt. I blamed myself for what had happened. In the morning I told my closest friend and swore him to secrecy. He never betrayed my confidence or told a soul and neither did I. When I began seventh grade that fall rumors circulated at Jr. High about another boy who had been involved with the same man during the summer. The rumors disparaged the boy as queer instead of blaming the man for the abuse. I went deeper into hiding so that no one would ever know about the incident with me. The man eventually moved on and I heard rumors that he had been prosecuted and imprisoned. The experience haunted me for years and destroyed my experience with scouting and my ability to trust and interact with other men. I detached from athletics, locker rooms, sports and other activities with men because of mistrust. Being only 11 years old at the time I don’t remember well if I ever told an adult. I think I may have told my parents much later. If I did no one ever took action and it was just dismissed. The effects of that abuse have taken me a lifetime to process and to overcome. Abuse is humiliating and devastatingly damaging to the self esteem of a child.
People often seem to think or theorize that homosexuality is caused by child abuse. My belief is that young men who are gay are often targeted and groomed by perpetrators because of their gentle and sensitive nature or because they are more vulnerable and targeted for having been different and less aggressive than other boys..
I have a sister who was sexually assaulted as an 18 year old, in Provo. When she told the bishop, he asked her about her behavior, and blamed her. This was the first time she’d ever sought counsel from a bishop. She was so hurt. She stopped attending church. She later started dating an abusive man. She thought she was “damaged goods,” and just gave up on herself. Meanwhile the boy who assaulted her went on a mission.
I was molested by a very well respected member of the church and close family friend. I was so ashamed I didn’t tell anyone at the time.
A few years later I got the courage to tell my new husband and we went to our bishop together. The man who molested me had since been called to be a bishop. I was sure they would immediately remove him from this position. I was wrong. They had to wait for two weeks while they called a new bishop and ‘passed the keys.’ I was devestated. He didn’t even deny the abuse yet I was made to feels as though I was overacting. It was like being violated all over again. I can only pray that he left his own three little girls alone.
I was sexually molested by my bishop when I was nine years old. I feared for my life as a child and found it very hard to be alone, especially at night. I would often sleep on the floor of my parent’s room for several years. My LDS father (who was serving in a bishopric) started physically and emotionally abusing me and my younger siblings when I was a teen. I would wake up nearly everyday to his voice screaming at me telling me I was a bitch, whore, asshole, etc.
The abuse became so extreme that at 16 I reached out to new bishop for help. It took so much courage for me to sit in his office and ask for assistance. I was deeply depressed and was having reoccurring nightmares about the sexual assault that happened to me when I was nine. I thought he might be able to help me and help my family.
I told him about the bishop that had sexually assaulted me. His response was that it happened so long that I needed to forgive and move on with my life. I told him about my father and the current abuse in my home. He also dismissed me saying that I needed to be an example to my father. He told me that my dad was in a pit and it was my responsibility to help pull him out. I left his office receiving no assistance. No call to the police. No offer of counseling services. No effort to contact my father.
I went home more distressed than I had ever been. I felt like he was my last hope of getting help. I attempted suicide.
At 17, I could no longer take the abuse in my home and so moved out. I dropped out of high school to hold down a full time job to pay for my little apartment. I was able to offer sanctuary to my siblings from time to time. But, the abuse continued for my siblings and I was hated even more by my father for trying to help them.
When I hear that the church is the GOLD STANDARD for reporting and stopping abuse, I am sickened. I am 45 years old and still suffer from the trauma the church and it’s leaders inflicted on me. I do not feel there will ever be justice for me and all the others that have been victimized by a church I once loved.
Creepy old Bishop kept asking if I masterbated. This abuse went on for years to the point I was was going to blow myself away because I was such a horrible sinner.
When I was 16, I had a supervisor at work who was in her 30’s. She started “grooming” me from the day we met. After a few months, she asked me to move in with her to be her “nanny.” That is when the molestation started. She was married with young children, in the Primary Presidency, wore garments and had a current temple recommend. The abuse continued and escalated over the next several months, despite me telling her to stop. Her husband was also innappropriate with me at times, although he never really crossed the line into molestation. I finally told her that I wanted to leave and go home when I realized that she wasn’t going to stop. Instead of letting me go home, she had me committed to the psyche ward. I don’t know what she told the people in her ward, but she was definitely seen as the victim while I was made to look like some unruly teen who had destroyed her reputation (or tried to). When I talked to my bishop about it, I was told that I needed to repent and turn to Christ. No one ever called CPS or reassured me that I was a victim. Nothing ever happened to her, even though I wrote a letter to her bishop about what she had done to me, and I know that my bishop and her bishop talked to each other about it. I lived with the shame of this experience for years, always blaming myself. I was denied the “priviledge” of serving a mission. Although this was not mentioned specifically as a reason that I couldn’t go, I felt that it was a major factor in their decision not to let me go. I am sure that there were victims after me, and some may have been her own children. I blame the church/society for part of this for not letting people feel safe in being who they really are. While it’s never acceptable to molest a child, I think that if she had been able to fulfill her desires to be with a woman, instead of being pushed into a heterosexual marriage, this may have been avoided. The bishops involved in this certainly should have done more to protect and help me and to prevent future victims.
When I was a RS president, a married woman had raped 3 inactive boys (15-17). The bishop instructed me and the young men and young women’s presidencies to support the rapist and not the children or their families.
I would visit her in jail and I saw no remorse. At her arraignment 10 or more members sat on the rapist side of the courtroom to show support, and absolutely NO, I mean NO support was to be given to the family as per the bishop’s request.
As a teen, my boyfriend in the ward repeatedly molested me. He told me that if I ever told anyone he would kill himself. After months and months I finally went to my bishop to confess what I had “let” him do. The bishop looked at me sternly, told me that I should not have tempted my boyfriend into sinning because I was going to ruin his chances of a mission. He told me not to tell anyone, not even my boyfriend that I had gone to him, because he didn’t want anyone to think badly of my boyfriend nor did he want me to “risk his life” by revealing his secret.. He continued to molest me, and he still went on a mission.
Your post was so similar to my experience that my husband asked me if I had posted a comment on this site. I am sorry for the experience you had and sorry that its not uncommon.
As a young man, my bishop was always interested in all the intricate details of me mildly messing around with my girlfriend(s). Even at the time, I thought it was quite creepy. As I grew older and became a father, I realized that it was thoroughly creepy.
Now that I am a father, I have told my sons, if asked if they have a problem with masturbation, the response is “No, I don’t have a problem with masturbation”. Its none of their business. I told my daughters that if they have concerns with sexual matters, they can talk to their parents or a counselor. Men do not forgive you. Christ does, so if you feel that you need to be forgiven, talk to Jesus. , If you want an answer back, talk to a counselor with an LDS background.
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)
After his resurrection, and before he ascended to heaven, Jesus gave his apostles the power to forgive sins. How many Bible-quoting ministers out there can claim that they have the power to forgive sins? It is easy to spot one who doesn’t just by the fact that he tells you to confess your sins directly to God.
Spencer W. Kimball wrote a thick book called the “Miracle of Forgiveness”, but there is not a single sentence there where he has ever exercised the power to forgive sins, that is, if had any.
Just because there are virtually none among the ministers of religion out there who can forgive sins, that doesn’t mean Christ did not delegate the power, nor does it mean that it is absent or left unexercised. Christ forgives sins by giving that power to men whom he appointed to exercise that power.
This is a sensitive issue for my wife however, with her permission I can share this anonymously. My wife was victim of sexual absue from her father from around the age of 8 to early teens. Various different indications suggest that her brother and sister were also victim to this however, they have never discussed this together.
My wife’s dad at the time served as the ward Bishop, he has since served on the stake presidency, thought in primary, he currently teachers institute and is the stake patriarch.
He is a very well respected man within the church, people look to him for his knowledge and kind heart. I was in the room when he was set apart as the stake patriarch. The stake president was in tears telling us how he knew that this man was called of God and he just knew for certain he was to be the stake patriarch.
My wife tried to bring this up when she was younger however, her dad dismissed it and church leaders ignored it. She hasn’t since bought it up in anyway. My wife is close with her mum who I think also chose to ignor this, we have a daughter who we don’t leave alone when he is around. This man had a calling in primary for goodness sake!!
It’s been difficult for me, I no longer go to church very often. I was stake executive secretary to the same stake president who called my wife’s dad as the patriarch, I found it hard not to say anything to him, I’ve always wanted to.
My wife’s dad is a nice man, with some serious issues. We cannot trust him with our daughter and my wife has caught him watching pornography many times while she still lived at home.
I stopped believing in the church due to the historical issues but this didn’t help. My wife has always had problems believing in the church due to her dad having all these callings despite being essentially a paedophile.
How coincidental that the LDS Church releases this just as the new movie, “Spotlight” is being released, which is a story about how reporters of the Boston Globe uncovered the Catholic Church cover-up of upwards of eighty pedophile priests in their town.
I have had personal experience with how the LDS church handled pedophiles and their victims in the past. I had access to court documents, depositions, and a view from the inside of the workings of the lawyers involved. This news release by the LDS Church is a shameful load of propaganda. It reveals how little, still, the church knows about sexual predators. and so the claim to have extensively trained and educated leaders and members seems ridiculous to me. [The words below that are in brackets are my comments.]
“the Church . . . whose very purpose is to welcome and minister to all people” . . . [EXCEPT sexually active homosexuals and the children of homosexuals, and anyone who is not a Totally Believing Mormon, and anyone who speaks out, dissents, or questions policy or leaders.]
“the Church’s approach [to handling child abuse] is the gold standard.” [A gold standard would include background checks on anyone who works with children or does Home Teaching, and would include running continuing education classes on Sundays when most people are there, in order to educate children, adult members, and leaders alike about how to recognize the grooming methods of pedophiles, their tactics for keeping their victims silent, and would include an alert to all members that the church re-baptizes pedophiles who have been excommunicated and does not warm members of their presence in a ward.]
“For decades the Church has . . . denounced child abuse.” [as if members did not know that child abuse is heinous, and as if any pedophiles hearing a denunciation would be guilted into stopping what they do. Are we supposed to be impressed by the mention of child abuse 80 times over a 40 year time period? The 50 church publication articles would not have been read by members who do not subscribe to those publications, nor by many who do not have time to read them all, even if they are available. The 30 sermons at conferences may not have been heard by many members, because few attend or listen to every talk of every conference. I was baptized in 1971 and attended the church nearly every Sunday for 33 years, was married to a Bishop, read the Ensign, and listened to many conferences, but do not recall ever receiving any useful practical education about child abuse . . . like how to detect pedophiles, deal with them, or protect our children from them. The “extensive training materials” mentioned must have come out after 2004 when I quit attending, and I am curious to know just how extensive they really are.]
“Bishops . . . are well known . . . before they are selected.” [So what? Sexual predators can hide their activities for years. Recent high profile examples of that are the well known, and beloved coach, Jerry Sandusky, and the comedian, Bill Cosby.]
“Before a Bishop is installed, all congregation members first vote to sustain his selection.” [Obviously this news release is a snow job for the general public, because members know that the “vote” is a joke, a rubber stamp, the routine raising of the hands by those who happen to be in attendance on the Sunday the calling is announced.]
“. . . abuse by LDS clergy is exceedingly rare” . . . [BUT IT HAS HAPPENED. It is nauseating to read this self-aggrandizing, self serving claptrap. This makes the church sound a bit full of itself that it is so much better than the Catholic church, and much too proud of its supposed expertise on child abuse which is a very new found awareness.]
“All Bishops are married and most have children of their own and . . . are invested in the safety of the congregation.” [See the results of a study of 4,000 admitted pedophiles, The Abel and Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study: 77% were currently or formally married, 93% were religious, and 79% were Caucasian. The percentages of the children that they targeted were broken down into categories: 40% were children of a friend or neighbor, 30% an adopted, foster, or stepchild of their own, 19% their own biological child, 35 % other family related children, 5% children in their care, and 10% were children of strangers. The percentages add up to more than 100% because predators target more than one category of child.]
[From personal experience, I know that all of the measures the church is taking that are mentioned in this paragraph are relatively new, and resulted from the church having to pay out millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements in the early 2000’s.]
“. . . the Church cannot monitor its member’s private lives” [BUT IT DOES monitor their on-line media if given notice that a member makes comments critical of the church on his blog or another website.]
“Because its clergy are laymen without professional training or qualifications in social work, in 1995 . . . the church . . . established a help line . . . staffed with licensed social workers [LDS Social Services is notoriously incompetent.} . . . to advise clergy how to . . . protect the victim . . . and deal with the perpetrator. The help line provides legal counsel to aid the clergy in complying with the law.” [Notice that a help line is not provided for victims. It is to aid the clergy and to cover the church’s butt legally.]
” . . . confidentiality helps victims and perpetrators alike to come forward and get help. [CONFIDENTIALITY HELPS PEDOPHILES TO BE REPEAT OFFENDERS] A confidential confession to a clergy person often breaks the cycle of abuse and is the first step in a process that leads to voluntary reporting by the perpetrator [REALLY?], victim, or others.” [Notice the politically correct term substituted for clergyman as if clergy could be a woman in the LDS church! I would like to see statistics on the voluntary reporting by perpetrators. My husband has a psychologist friend who is not LDS and has dealt with pedophiles for years, and it is his professional experience and opinion that perpetrators over the age of seventeen are highly UNLIKELY to have any real remorse or to ever change, but they are often able to con clergy into believing that they have.
“Many victims . . . do not want to be traumatized again by a criminal investigation and public prosecution . . .” [This is entirely true, but throwing victims into the public media circus or re-traumatizing them didn’t seem to matter to the church when it was confronted in the 1990’s and early 2000’s by adult members who had been child victims of men that the church knew were pedophiles. The Church did not take the high road in dealing with these young men. It had a pattern of delaying settling out of court until after civil lawsuits were filed, which threw the victims and their families into the public eye, but gave church lawyers an opportunity to see how bad the cases against them were, and to file motions trying to get cases dismissed or charges lowered. Lawyers on both sides never intended to actually go to trial, but were shadow boxing to jockey for a better bargaining position. The church spent millions fighting tooth and nail and denying any responsibility, unless and until they realized that their cases looked bad, or until the judge seemed close to asking for church financial records which would have revealed the total worth of the church. At that point they would spend millions more by finally settling out of court to avoid handing over more documents and avoid going to court, which would expose all the details of the case to public view. A quote by a Boston Globe reporter from the movie “Spotlight” applies equally to the Mormon Church. He said to a Catholic church representative “You have turned pedophilia into a cottage industry for lawyers.”]
11th and 12th par
[These paragraphs would be laughable if it were not for the sobering fact of the tragic outcomes for so many child victims. My knowledge from the past is that disfellowshipping or excommunicating a pedophile was announced in the ward at a Sunday priesthood meeting and the reason given was “conduct unbecoming a member,” so the men who were at that meeting never knew exactly what the person did, and the women of the church who constitute most of the children’s teachers, were told nothing at all. These two types of church “discipline” were just a revolving door to re-baptism. The people were not barred from attending church, but only from taking the sacrament bread and water, from holding positions, or offering talks and prayers. Most people who want to get back into full membership can do so after a year of meeting regularly with their clergy, attending meetings, paying tithing, etc.
To say that church discipline induces pedophiles to stop, or that it protects other church members from pedophiles is flatly untrue and makes me wonder what planet the author of this news release lives on. Church discipline does not “demonstrate institutional condemnation of such evil” to anyone except the perpetrator, because his confessed deeds remain confidential information.
When someone is willing to talk about molestation, it unlikely that their claims are spurious. The demands of lawyers on behalf of victims may sometimes seem overreaching, but meeting the needs of victims before they are angry enough to hire a lawyer would solve that problem. Being negligent or complicit in the destruction of someone’s innocence, childhood, and perhaps their entire life is damage that no amount of money can ever correct. The church has deep pockets and should expect to pay dearly. If the church really has the highest standards among religious organizations regarding child abuse, the bar must be awfully low.
Without warning the membership about a re-baptized pedophile’s background, how on Earth could a bishop prevent him from having contact with children in a ward? Mormons are trusting and friendly, and in no time at all an experienced pedophile would be cultivating friendships with parents and be invited into their homes.
Once a pedophile senses that an adult may be on to him, he quickly leaves the area and moves on to a new ward where no one knows him. I know of a man who moved around over a period of about twenty five years between at least twelve different wards in at least six different states, and each time, soon after landing in a new place, he was called by the inspiration of a bishop to serve in a calling, mostly those that involved contact with children. He was disfellowshipped once when molestation was reported to a bishop, excommunicated once in a different ward, then re-baptized within a year in a third ward. This was done against the objection of a previous bishop, and with the approval of a general authority who restored the man’s temple privileges. Finally he was excommunicated once again after being convicted of child molestation in a criminal case. He was given a slap on the wrist, a suspended six month sentence. At that time the church faced civil suits by multiple adults who had been his child victims. I am sure these children were the tip of the iceberg and immense damage was done to perhaps hundreds of others over the years.]
[Oh my gosh, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. A “highly effective system (by whose standards?) to prevent abuse, protect and help victims (It is a little too late to protect children once they are victims.), ensure that clergy comply with the law, discipline and expel abusers.” REALLY? I would like to know if pedophiles are really “expelled,” as in banned from all wards and church premises and member’s homes, and if so, how that is accomplished within a system that protects them from exposure and keeps their confidences?
If I sound angry, it is only because I am. Our family has been personally and deeply hurt in many ways and on so many different levels by child molestation within the church in the past. We were devastated to see ignorance and incompetence on the part of church leaders from the very top on down, and the un-Christlike and sometimes disengenuous way the church lawyers were allowed to handle the problem. I am glad if things have improved and fewer children are being victimized now, but I am extremely skeptical of all the grandiose claims in this news release.]
The LdS church actively sought to cover up the sex abuse of my children by their ‘Kimball’ genealogy-line father. I liked https://www.ldolphin.org/Lot.html for explaining the problem with incest. Sex (to me, as a woman) is beautiful… like a rose that blooms… but sex abuse is like the forceful opening of a rose bud… just plain wrong & not any definition of beautiful.
I hope that somewhere out there, men see that porn is like robbery & “the daughters ravished before the eyes of the fathers”.
Virtue is beautiful & I believe in a future of purity and greater accountability. I have so much more to say on this topic, but suffice it to say, the current moron ‘prophets’ are scammers.
Ok the sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church were proven to be “not a few bad apples” but a product of the church giving hush hush money and sending the priest elsewhere. In the Mormon church we do have evidence of bad judgment(no background checks private interviews) but do we have evidence of hush hush money and cover ups at a high level? (G. A) level? If you seen the movie “spotlight” you know what I’m getting around to.
My siblings and I were subjected to physical, sexual, verbal, and mental abuse by our father. When oldest sibling had the baptism interview at age 8, they told the bishop everything. Dad was called in and tearfully confirmed it was all true. The bishop had dad “repent” for three months and then allowed him to baptize my sibling- in addition my family had clearance to go to the temple to be sealed…those recommends stayed in the drawer for a year with my mom begging to go every weekend until they expired. Dad had moved on to me and younger sibling by then.
I never told anyone (because of fear my dad would go to jail and it would be my fault) and never knew about my siblings until I was an adult and saw the way dad was with my sibling’s child. I took sibling aside and shared what dad did to me and how worried I was for the safety of the next generation. The siblings response completely and totally shocked me— “dad did things to me too…”
Questions left unanswered such as why this happened in the mid/late 80’s when all the new policies and procedures were in place? Why did my mom have her bishop and stake president tell her that the problem with my dad was that SHE wasn’t willing to do certain things in the bedroom and that’s why dad “had” to use his kids? Why didn’t the church leaders protect us? Why wouldn’t they support my mom in going to the police?
My earliest memories are of him harming me– continuing until early teenage years.
For those it may help- Survivors of Incest Anonymous is a wonderful group. Google them and see if there’s a group meeting in your area. You can also order materials online to assist in healing.
If it’s gold standard, I think the church should share it with professional associations of child abuse prevention around the world. Have they? If they really have the gold standard, scholars and professionals would have studied their methods, reported them and disseminate the wonderful process the church employs to prevent child abuse. I don’t think there is anything in the academic literature talking about the gold standard of the church and how their process helped associations around the world.
This is another well-crafted article to promote faith among their members.
The simple fact that young women age 12 have interviews with middle aged men behind closed doors is proof to me they they don’t have the gold standard. Just like BSA, the church should employ the 2 deep leadership for interviews of ALL youth, especially girls.
“One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In compliance with the BSA’s “two deep” leadership policy, two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. In situations requiring a personal conference, such as a Scoutmaster’s conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youth. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all Scouting activities.”
My girl is 12 in 4 months. She’s going to have an interview alone with a 40-year old talking about the law of chastity. NO WAY.
This is a marvelous project, John. I just watched the movie, Spotlight, the story of the Boston Globe newspaper exposing the Catholic pedophile priest scandal. In a Catholic city it took a Jewish editor at the paper to realize that the bigger story, the story that would have any lasting impact, was the cover-up by top leadership. I’d highly recommend Spotlight as a compelling story well told. By inviting folks to bring this subject out in the open now, hopefully we won’t have a Mormon version of the Spotlight story in twenty years.
The most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever had to do in church service took place when I was a counselor in a bishopric once. The bishop instructed us to ask every youth we interviewed if they were masturbating. Asking in a gentle, casual way with a friendly smile in no way diminished how wrong it felt for me to ask some angel-faced, twelve-year-old girl if she were pleasuring herself. I felt like a pervert and always questioned in my mind where such a practice could have originated.
I have an older brother who started raping my sister some time before she was 8 years old. It continued over the course of 5 years and developed into some kind of sick gang initiation with his friends. Unfortunately, as in many child abuse cases, the truth didn’t come out until well after the Statue of Limitations had passed.
My sister has since shared with us what happened, and I am able to corroborate it with some very painful memories of my own. This older brother had been called as a bishop, so we reported him through official church channels back in April of 2014 (through a local bishop, who in turn called the church’s legal department). The church responded by saying they would “pursue” it. That was a year and a half ago, but according to the LDS Meetinghouse Locator, he’s still the bishop of his ward.
We have since learned many other unfortunate details, including that my even younger sister (5 years younger than the first) was also raped by his friends around the time she turned 8.
From my own experience, I find this recent pronouncement by the church to be, at best, a bold-faced lie. To say “any credible allegation of abuse against him would quickly result in the Church’s terminating the calling,” makes one wonder what the church considers a “credible” allegation. The testimony of the abuser’s own mother? A brother’s? A sister’s? All combined even, wasn’t enough to have a man with a history of sexually abusing 8 year olds removed from that position. I’m personally a returned missionary, graduated from BYU, and even worked full-time for the church for several years. Still. Not. Credible. Enough.
After going through this, I recently chose to have my name removed from church membership.
In my ward in England (Wells Road, Bristol) a young non-Mormon scout reported seeing something sexual being done by the scout leader, but his account was not considered credible by his local leaders because he was a non-Mormon. A church member in the scouting program who was related to this scout leader (brother-in-law) carried out a great deal of child abuse after that upon the scouts and in their own family (the children of which were friends of mine). When it came to civil trial the Stake President (Mark Lewis) who was also a member of the police force, advised the abuser not to bring up additional abuse he’d carried out, this led to an internal enquiry in the force about his behaviour and his release as Stake President (although he was subsequently called as a Mission President). The justification I heard from other church members at the time as to why local and stake leaders did not do more to expose the abuse was because of the need to protect the church. For that same reason a previous Stake President (Don Norris) did not report abuse against one of his own children.
In the 90’s there was a huge scandal in Idaho where numerous boy scouts were molested by a man who had confessed to his LDS bishop that he had molested a child. An award winning expose was written in the Post Register by Peter Zuckerman called “Scouts Honor” Try as I might, I can find no trace of the 6 part series online. Here is a post about how the reporter was attacked by the community. https://may-chang.com/?p=4402#more-4402
Fortunately I have never been sexually abused nor has my wife. I have an uncle who was molested by his stake president when he was 8 years old. He recently opened up about this to me and another cousin of mine. Growing up I never understood why he seemed so shy and awkward around others until this brief conversation. The sickening part of it all was that his parents (my grandparents) never reported it nor felt it necessary to relocate or offer counseling. My grandparents are at the temple almost daily and my uncle has conveyed that his pedophile former stake president works with them almost every time they go to the temple. I have much less appreciation for my grandparents and much more appreciation for my parents who kept me safe while growing up in a ward where this could have easily happened to me.
The “gold standard” is nothing but a bold face lie. I would hope within the near future that members and non-members alike would wake up and realize that this happens universally in almost all churches and any organization that offers a position of influence on other people. The church is kidding no one but themselves in offering that they uphold a “gold standard” in preventing any kind of abuse. If the church wants others besides the true-believing members to accept they are doing everything they can to prevent abuse then they will openly admit that they have had many instances of abuse in the past and they are doing everything they can (including educating members and leaders) to maintain their “gold standard”.
My daughter and her friend both had their daughters sexually abused by a teenager in their ward why are these teenagers not excommunicated and please research if abusers are excommunicated these young men were not my friend brought up a good point bishops are told to take gay couples to excommunication but sexual abuse is up to the discretion of the bishop Victims are told to forgive sex abusers
So my friends children still invite their father who sexually abused them as a child to all their family gatherings they put their grandchildren in trouble because they are told to forgive an abuser
A family in my ward just found out that there 8 year daughter was molested by a cousin during a family reunion in Utah last summer. The daughter spoke about it during Sunday school like it was a normal thing. They are from a very well known family and her parents are in the church presidency. The family is very well known at BYU too. I understand that this can happen to any family. I believe they are trying to keep this very hush hush and not let this get out to the public. And that the monster who did this to the little girl is getting away with it. I am sure he has done this to others. They are very proud people. I am sure this is real big blow to there ego.
I am devasted that this happen to there 8 year old daughter. What makes me sad…..Is that a lot of people are talking and gossiping about them in our ward. I am not sure if this family is aware of all the gossip about them. They are an ok family….They have treated other members in the ward badily….some have even said that satan is punishing them because of how they have treated some other LDS memebers in the ward. They are not the most friendiliest family. The mother can be are very abrut and cold, judgmental that has some very scary mental issues of depression. The father is a know it all, cocky guy. They both act like they are better than everyone because of her family name. They are both from money. They do a good job putting up there Sunday best. Its the mormon image…..the perfect family image that they dont want to save. I sure hope there daughter will stay strong and get the help she is needed. It would be cool if the family came on this website and spoke to you. We will have to wait till they soften there hearts and decide what they really want.
My older sister was abused for years by my father when she was a young teenager. He was a member of the Stake High Council and later served as a counselor in two separate Bishoprics. During his time in the second Bishopric my sister decided to go on a mission, she finally talked about the abuse from my dad with the Bishop during her pre-mission interviews. The Bishop did not report anything however, he decided instead to release my dad as a counselor and call him as the Young Men’s Leader. A truly “spirit” guide decision in my opinion.
Brandon, Your sister’s story sounds similar to mine. I asked for my recommend a couple of months before I left to attend my brother’s wedding. In my interview with the Stake President during our interview he said “I feel like there is a problem in your home and that I should know about and not give you a recommend right now.” I indicated that he might be feeling that my father sexually abused me during my early teenage years and he is abusive to our family. He said that I “should have confessed” the sin. I indicated that I understood that we are “punished for our own sins” That I did nothing wrong an he should bring his concerns up with my father if he felt so inclined. He said he would need to think it over. He called me into his office about a week later and said he would give me my recommend (and my father also “because no harm was done.”). Recently, my husband and I had an experience with a bishop that caused us to not trust him. After complaining to, and getting no where with our stake president, I wrote a letter to the first presidency. They had the regional rep call. But, when he found the bishop’s action was only verbally abusive, controlling and in direct opposition to our electronic instruction as parents, we were told that we needed to gain a more firm testimony of priesthood leadership. I explained that a matriarch trumps bishop every time. But, 4 years, 2 bishops later, we are still shunned. I agree that the church has taken some steps to protect themselves from litigation. But, the culture of “leadership is always right” creates a situation ripe for unchecked abuse.
I was pressured into marrying my ex-husband sooner than I felt ready because my stake president and bishop were worried about any sexual transgressions that might happen before marriage. I came home from my honeymoon covered in bruises, having experienced marital rape for the first time, fast forward several months of this and I’m crying to my bishop because the sexual abuse had gotten so out of hand and I was desperate for help, I was then sent to the stake president who made me describe in detail every single way I had been touched sexually by my ex husband that I thought might be abuse, no matter how much I asked to stop talking about it, or how much I cried, I was still told by the stake president to continue….. For anything sexual! The rest of the abuse didn’t matter so much. Then I had to go through repentance for all of the things I “let” my ex husband do to me. My ex husband never got any sort of call from the bishop or stake president to come in for what he did at all, because in the eyes of the stake president he was “just a confused man, who didn’t know any better.”
My brother, who recently served as a bishop for a few years, never fully disclosed the extent of how he showed himself to me completely nude and erect in his bedroom while I was 12 and he was 16. He would have liked everyone (his bishop and my dad) to still think it was an “accident”. I was told by my brother to keep it a secret twice (the moment it happened and a few years later while he was on his mission) and to sweep it under the rug of forgiveness, so I did. I was left alone to deal with the trauma for 15 years until I was married for 3 years and strong enough to feel like I could tell someone. I told my husband, confronted my brother and was subsequently reprimanded by my family that I was overreacting and that he was forgiven long ago. I was told by my father, 1st counselor in the bishopric, that I was “single handedly tearing apart the family”. Both parents also blamed my husband for making me supposedly blow it out of proportion. Consequently, I had protect myself from their abuse by cutting ties until they agreed to go see a professional counselor about it. Because of my non-LDS counselor, they were able to come to the understanding that it was sexual abuse of a child, it was not “normal” (as my family said) for him to do that, he should have never told me to keep it a secret, I should have gotten help, and it did impact me more than they will ever know. If my brother had talked to a bishop about it being an “accident” like he said he did, and if, “the Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse,” that bishop should have made sure I was not harmed by it and he should have reported it, which is required by law. Well, too late for that.
I don’t live in Idaho or Utah so members are not very common where I live. On the street that I grew up on on there were 3 other LDS families in about 15 houses of neighbors. ALL 3 of them molested children. 2 were disfellowshipped and are now “active”, one was sent to prison. Between the 3 of them there are at least 12-20 victims. None of the victims are active in the church. They all had very troubled lives after that. Only the perpetrators remain in the church and it was handled very quietly and poorly.
Having been sexually abused when I was 8/9 and being raised very active in the LDS church, the churches influence was a double edge sward for me.
On the positive, Church provided structure for me. The young woman program was very heathy and gave me people to be around every Wednesday night. I believe my relationship with God really helped me through struggling times. I don’t believe I would be where I am today without God in my life and I’m grateful for how the Church was able to help me in that way.
On the other hand, I felt so much shame having been abused as a child. I would always wonder if this was something I needed to tell my bishop (and felt guilty because I knew I would never talk to my bishop about this) I wondered if I was worthy to go to the temple etc. I recall one particular lesson where having sex was compared to cutting an apple (literally used as a demonstration) and how the apple can be pieced back together (healed through the atonement) but will ultimately never be the same again.
There are some extremely damaging lessons and rhetoric around chastity within the church. I’ve heard others having similar lessons where having sex was compared to a chewed up piece of gum, a wood with a nail in it, a $20 bill crumbled.
I hear the argument that crumbling up a 20 dollar bill as a metaphor for having sex is okay because the value is the same, even after its crumbled. This lesson is still damaging because taking a 20 bill and crumbling it still holds meaning that it’s not as good as it was before. If the way you treat things doesn’t matter (because the values is the same) than why wouldn’t you throw your book of mormon across the room? Because it does matter. Putting so much value on chastity for young women is extremely damaging. Value doesn’t lie in your chastity.
I never felt safe meeting with an older man whom I didn’t know alone in a room. Never. I remember making sure I had my pepper spray in my purse just in case. I didn’t feel safe being alone with my bishop (even though he never did anything bad to me).
Just because people are Mormon/hold the priesthood/ have callings within the church, absolutely does not mean that they wont take advantage of their authority/position. To believe other wise is to live in a fantasy world.
The issue with believing that the church is so great when it comes to handling sexual abuse is that it blinds people to the actual sexual abuse that is happening. The church doesn’t create an environment for it to be discussed, rather shames everyone involved. Abuse is something kept under the radar.
Stating that the LDS Churches standard for handling sexual abuse is the “gold standard” is so far from the truth. The Church needs to begin having healthy discussions about sex and stop shaming people. Sexual abuse happens. And it happens in the Church.
You don’t know what you are talking about. Your church doesn’t know what it is talking about. You can repeat and tell yourself that you and your church is the “gold standard,” however, that doesn’t make it true. Telling victims to remain silent in order to avoid bigger problems is disgusting. This is still going on today and don’t kid yourself. Please open your eyes and please be honest with what you see. As a former abuse victim that was told to keep quiet by your former “brethren,” I have to say that the church is clearly far from the “gold standard.” Unless the “gold standard” means turning a blind eye to what is truly going on and simply repeating false facts over and over in order to make you feel better. One victim is too many.
The abuse in the Church never ends. I had my first grandson adopted out because the bishop told my then wife and daughter that the first step to repentance was for my teenage daughter (17) was to place the child. The LDS family they gave the baby to was so deceitful and didn’t do anything my daughter wanted.
Then missing out on 3 of my children’s weddings for any reason and they have the gal to tell me that I’m not worthy after serving my children for 30 years. Meanwhile aunts and uncles can attend the weddings of my children and are considered worthy because they can answer some questions?
Even my wife lied through her temple recommend interview and the only reason I didn’t call her on it was because I wanted my children to have at least one of their parents there. In hindsight, this should have never happened in the first place.
The Church with it’s crazy doctrines is a seed bed for abuse.
I was sexually abused by a neighbor in my ward who was babysitting me. My parents found out years later when he confessed to his mission president who told him that he needed to tell my parents. He did not face any consequences for his behavior.
My dad sexually abused my youngest sister. At the time of the abuse he was the High Priest Group Leader and worked at BYU. He used to give us kids Personal Priesthood interviews at home and ask all the personal questions the bishop would ask in interviews. If my sister ever felt bad about the abuse that was going on my dad would tell her she would we have to confess her sins to him, because he was her Priesthood authority. (Even though he was the one causing the abuse that she felt guilty about.)
My sister finally told my Mom about the abuse and we kicked my dad out of the house. The bishop helped convince my mom to take my dad back. The bishop also never told BYU about the abuse or he would have lost his job. Within a year he was back home, with a calling and home teaching and attending the temple wedding of one of his other daughters.
My sister has depression and anxiety and can not keep a job. Somedays she can’t even get out of bed. My mom is dead set on my sister having a relationship with my dad. My dad feels like he did nothing wrong and was only trying to help my sister be happy by sexually abusing her. The fact the church did not properly discipline him only strengthens this idea in his mind. Just like so many of the other stories here, the church protects the Priesthood at the expense of the victims.
Imagine a man in his 30s and his wife offered their home to teens needing A safe place to stay — like foster children Then while they were living with him and trusting him he asked them to secretly have sex with him telling him that’s what God wanted and that God would kill him if they didn’t have sex with him
And what if that man repeated that pattern many times over with many teens. Anyone in their right mind would see that is child abuse
If that happened today anyone in their right mind would say that was child-abuse
Joseph Smith Did exactly that!! he he manipulated And abused teens under the name of celestial marriage . And that has been repeated for generations under the name of polygamy . no wonder the Mormon church is confused about what his child abuse . The more I learn about Joseph Smith the more sick makes me feel . Please let me know what you think
I have read that Joseph Smith from only had one wife and was staunchly against polygamy. Brigham Young brought it in. There are quotes from church published books from Joseph Smith affirming this.
Joseph Smith constantly lied to the public about his practice of polygamy/polyandry because he knew it wouldn’t be tolerated by society at large. This was one of the reasons he had the Nauvoo Expositor destroyed- because they were going to print a story revealing his polygamous activities. I don’t know what books you’re reading, but the journals of all the women he married, their parents, siblings, and even husbands tell a completely different story.
In any case you can go to familyhistory.com (owned by the OFF church) and look up Joseph Smith’s family history to plainly see that he was married to at least 27 women.
Imagine a 30+ year old man and his wife offering their home to teen girls who needed a safe place to live like foster children…,and then that same man convinces the girls to secretly have sex with him so they can live with God —-and if they don’t An Angel will kill him! imagine this man repeating this behavior with multiple teens!!
If that happened today anyone in their right mind would say it was child abuse.
Let’s be honest This is exactly what Joseph Smith did
As a trusted friend and religious Leader he used manipulation threats and promises to talk these girls into sex
This kind of thing continued for years in polygamy No wonder the Mormon church is so confused as to what child abuse and how to handle it
Imagine a 30+ year old man and his wife offering their home to teen girls who needed a safe place to live like foster children…,and then after he canes their trust that same man asks the girls to secretly have sex with him so they can live with God —-and if they don’t An Angel will kill him! imagine this man repeating this behavior with multiple teens!!
If that happened today anyone in their right mind would say it was child abuse.
Let’s be honest This is exactly what Joseph Smith did
As a trusted friend and religious Leader he used manipulation threats and promises to talk these girls into sex
This kind of thing continued for years in polygamy No wonder the Mormon church is so confused as to what child abuse and how to handle it
I am so sick of hearing people say that “life in the 1800s was different” as a justification for what went on. I will stand up against child abuse whether it happened yesterday, or 200 years ago, or 2000 years ago. This isn’t ok now and it wasn’t ok then. The church and polygamy has boxed me into a corner where either I have to believe the prophets were evil, wrong, misled (you pick), or I have to grapple with the conclusion that the God and Savior I felt I had built a relationship with (via Mormonism) are not who I thought THEY were. They are not the Gods who love and cherish their daughters.
I can only vote with my dollars and my feet, because they won’t hear my voice.
these are horror stories. if the church apply inspiration like they say they do when putting men in leadership positions, then i question the so-called inspiration or are these men now called out od desperation? why does not god, if there is one, intervene?
many many years ago, i had an interview with a stake leader, and the question of masturbation came up. i admitted to doing it. this leader then went on to ask if i had read any porn magazines, and he named at least half a dozen magazines – – – – all of which i had never even heard of.
why do leaders do this, or is it their way of getting their “jollies” off ??????
the church has become so crazy with dirty disgusting men in leadership positions.
A man that was formerly a Bishop found guilty of making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children, after police found more than 24,000 indecent images and 948 movie stills of children on a family computer.
Another sexual abuse case with a coverup: https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/brocked-up-supervisor-fulton-brock-attempted-to-cover-up-the-sexual-liaisons-between-his-wife-daughter-and-a-teenage-boy-6450425
The posts of these horrible acts of abuse are heart-wrenching. It upsets me that nothing was done in most of these situations. I was fortunate that I was not a victim from sexual abuse. Yes, my brother and I suffered from some mental and physical abuse by our real mother and a jealous stepmother. However, we were subjected as teenagers to the sick curiosity of a couple of bishops that asked if we masturbated during our interviews. As kids, we were taught to respect and obey our Church leaders and to never question them. It became a joke among a few of us boys that, “no, no we don’t have a problem with masturbation, we got the technique down pretty good!” However, we didn’t realize the seriousness of it because we thought it was just a routine question only to later find out it was a question that never should have been asked by them. I asked my dad who is a very devout member and he even at least agreed that these bishops even asked him inappropriate and intrusive questions during interviews. Since their is little oversight and accountability, all kinds of abuses will unfortunately continue in this church. I have, like a previous poster mentioned in here, also told my son to never answer a question that is out of line during an interview. And that if he ever feels uncomfortable with a bishop, that he can request that I be present in the interview.
When I was in YM and then YSA there was a single man in our ward, a lawyer. Very well off and loved by the ward and the stake. He would often times take the young men from the inner city wards out on his boat to go water skiing among other things. I spent many nights hanging at his house as he lived a few streets down from my family. He moved after a few years and probably within a year the stake sent out a notice to our ward that he had been arrested for child molestation. They wanted to make sure that no one in our area was a victim.
This was the only reference I could find
Two LDS brothers. One was is a former Stake President. Both pedophiles and wretched people. In addition to molesting patients at his chiropractic practice, Grant Hildreth also preyed on kids in little league basketball leagues which he used to coach.
Grant Hildreth: https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/chiropractor-convicted-of-sexual-abuse-may-be-out-of-prison/article_97264866-0dd5-531c-bbcc-0928f44b058b.html
Clayton Hildreth: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/595073350/Church-official-arrested-in-Internet-sex-sting.html?pg=all
My father sexual abused me as a child. He was in the bishopric and then the Scout Master while I was a child and teenager. He also abused my siblings. He was disfellowshiped for a few years, but is a current active, temple-going member (thanks to first presidency approval). My experience was not a part of that disfellowship, but it all seemed to be swept under the rug. As an adult now, it’s only been the past few years that I have been remembering the horrific details of his abuse, and realizing it was more severe than I remembered. (This is common for victims who had to live with their perpetrator.) My experience was conveyed to his Stake President, because it’s new information to them, and I want to protect any future, potential victims. I was asked to fly out and meet with my dad and his SP to sort this all out. (No way in hell I was going out there and being in the same room with him. What were they thinking???) I was told by my SP that I needed to forgive my father, reconcile, and fix my family. (WTF?!?) AND my SP was voyeuristic in asking details about the abuse, all with a perma-smile on his face. (Sick! Sick! Sick!) I was told by my dad’s SP that he has repented and that was taken care of. No, my experience was not part of his previous church discipline! That SP wouldn’t do a thing about it. Ever priesthood holder who knows the details of my father’s abuse, which is many spread across 4 stakes, every one has been focused on my dad’s repentance EXCEPT my current bishop. He has followed the protocol in the handbook of instructions, and he has fought for me and helped me by giving me a safe place to talk and respecting my boundaries. He has been more concerned about helping me and creating a safe space for me at church. It breaks my heart that my experience isn’t the only negative, re-traumatizing experience out there.
We left the church not because of abuse, but because of the culture of enabling abuse that we found in the church.
When it became necessary to cut my wife’s sexually abusive sibling out of our lives, it was horrible, but not all that unexpected, to find that her parents and siblings in unison turned their backs on us. This is pretty much textbook behavior from a serially abusive family structure.
What was unexpected was that we received the same treatment from so many church members that knew us both… even members of my family, and the local stake president. When her abusive relative moved into our general area, my wife’s PTSD made it impossible to her her to attend church, as it was no longer a safe place. Being faithful LDS-ers we decided to try doubling down on Temple attendance instead. However we learned that her abuser had obtained a temple recommend, so that building was also no longer safe. I contacted the stake president, not to convince him to overturn his bizarre ruling that this sex offender was temple worthy, (since obviously that would have been overstepping my lowly bounds as a rank and file member) but to beg him to help us arrange a system whereby we could attend the temple on days when we could be guaranteed to not meet the abuser in the halls. Not because we hated him and wished him ill, but because meeting him in the temple would be a 100% guaranteed way to spark weeks if not months of PTSD for my wife, and probably make it impossible fer her to attend the temple for years, if ever again. The stake president was convinced however, that I was imply an angry unforgiving jerk, just out to cause trouble and assured my that the spirit had told him that the abuser was worthy and that most of the abuse was made up. I dont have words to describe my feelings at that point. Beg for help saving someone’s ability to function day to day and get rejected and told you arent much a a christian for your efforts someday… see how it feels.
The human instinct to ignore abuse and not get involved seems to have found a comfortable disguise in the church. We found the church, as a unit, to function very much on the same model as an abusive family. Hide it, pretend it never happened, ‘forgive’, blame the victim, and put on a smiling mask.
I had been able to take all the obvious historical, doctrinal and scientific problems of Mormonism on ‘faith’ for most of my life, but when I came face to face with the culture of enabling, it was the jarring jolt I needed to break out of the memeplex. It was like waking up.
I am so sorry for your wife’s and your continued suffering, and I completely understand the emotional impact and trauma that abuse has on the victim and anyone who loves him/her. I had put a lot of things on the shelf over the years, but this was the ten ton last straw. Seeing the church leadership’s and its douche bag lawyers’ incompetence, cowardice, lack of understanding, lack of discernment, failure to take the high road for the abused but willingness to protect the abuser, was shocking, devastating, enraging. Our case was one of a molested child, and It quickly became very clear that it was never about the child. It was about protecting the church’s reputation and deep pockets and its fake facade of divine inspiration.
Thank you. Right there with you. Weirdly, though, I’m sort of ‘grateful for the trial’ (lol, there’s some mormon speak for you) because without it, I don’t know that we would ever have escaped the church. I’m sorry to hear you had to suffer through the same sort of thing. Reading through all the comments above, it seems obvious that this is more than a few isolated problems. ‘Gold Standard’ … *rolls eyes*
Three stories of which I have personal knowledge…
1. Bishop talked to me repeatedly about masturbation when I was a teen. In hindsight, all inappropriate and unnecessary. Caused me much heartache and confusion, and reduced self worth.
2. A different Bishop, when he was an early morning seminary teacher (before being called as Bishop) asked a young girl in his class to be a plural wife in the future. He showed her the patriarchal grip. Caused the girl and family much duress. Incident reported to SP. Swept under rug, no action. Man later called to be bishop. Now a high counselor. Girl now grown up, had child, now divorced. Girl hates Church and does not attend. Her name still on Church records though. Girl living with parents with her child, trying to move forward with her life. Making progress but difficult.
3. Church leader “played doctor” with several teenage boys in ward, looking at private parts. Repeatedly asked boys about masturbation. Incidents explained to Bishop and SP. All swept under rug. Leader was relieved of church callings with youth. My son was one of the victims. Nothing else happened to leader, no consequences. Gag of confidentiality. No satisfaction, no information. My son is gay. I love him dearly. He served mission. He resigned from Church. More or less encouraged to do so by his Bishop at that time.
I’m a sexual abuse survivor, non-LDS, but with many similar experiences with persons in authority (religious and secular). I feel such grief at reading these comments, knowing what they mean in terms of pain, suffering, confusion; the lost years while trying to remedy some of the devastation.
It has been a long time since I’ve cried because of this part of my life. My tears today are not for me. I wish all affected peace, self-acceptance, and healing.
I believe there was a patriarch excommunicated in Calgary, Alberta for sexual abuse against a youth circa 2002. Not sure when the abuse took place. I tried to google the info but this is all I could find. Not much online news available from that time
It is referenced in the third paragraph
let’s discuss the General authority George Lee who was a convicted child sex abuser
Recently The perfect mormon father and husband and elders quorum president 50-year-old Sean Dotson of Forest Grove Oregon was arrested for attempted child rape of a 14-year-old
He is under constant home supervision until the court date
Why is he sitting with his family at church and holding his wife’s hand like he is i innocent They have lots of incriminating information on him why he is he at church around the youth even if he’s not alone with them– he’s trying to fool us all
It’s disgusting and The members should not have to go to church with a sex offender
Get him out of church now
What are they waiting for
My friend is number two in rank at the police department for his city. He recently shared this on Facebook. As a cop living in a predominately LDS community, he feels the local leaders have routinely hid abuse from the law.
Not sure how to send the link from FB, but here is his quote:
“So heres my opinion. If I ever left the Church it would never be because of a doctrine issue, or a revelation issue, etc, etc,. I would never lose my testimony. I would leave because I refuse to send my children to a place once a week where their safety, and the safety of victims is routinely placed below that of offenders or common sense. I unfortunately see this happening in an increasing scale because of the culture of the local church here. Its funny how we can be so firm in our belief and recitations of the articles of faith, which command us to be subject to laws, but its ok for bishops to shield and hide monsters in our midst because they have confessed their sins and are on the “road to repentance”. Well bishop, you are a legallly mandated reporter and you must, according to law, report abuse of children in any form. For some crimes the road to repentance winds through the courts and jail, and should.”
Like · Reply · 15 · February 2 at 2:19pm
Don’t forget Sister Chieko N. Okazaki’s talk, “Healing From Sexual Abuse” in which she says one out of three women have been sexually abused and at least 1 out of every 10 boys, and has “no reason to believe that the statistics are any different for [Mormons] than for the national population.”
At 12-13 yrs old I was a male on male victim of sexual abuse by a church member(early 20’s)/friend invited into my LDS family home. When I eventually informed my brother, who helped me tell my parents, they informed the Bishop. The bishop was a family friend and this pedophile was/had dated his daughter. He “took care of it” and it was done. Taking care of it was typical repentance process with no legal intervention. I will not lament my own struggles following this event, but I do have much anger because this abuser went on to continue abusing being convicted and serving time in two other states. Recently released he was busted on Federal child porn charges and will never see the light of day again. The LDS Church / Bishop swept this under the rug at the time and let the abuser go on to victimize many more children. I know it is anecdotal, but my life was nearly derailed by this experience. Following the modeled behavior of my parents and church leaders, I didn’t talk about it and pretended it didn’t happen. When I did bring it up, I felt strong armed into “forgiving” him. When I would bring it up again, I was at fault for not forgiving and any problem I had was because of my hard heart.
The Sins of Brother Curtis: A Story of Betrayal, Conviction, and the Mormon Church
By Lisa Davis
please watch. This man claims his daughter was molested by a GA. This sounds EXACTLY like the church culture of enabling abuse that I have experienced.
I grew up in a small LDS community. Neighbors reported my dad’s physical abuse to both the bishop and the local authorities. The bishop reportedly called my dad to repentance. Oddly, it was the authorities who failed to do anything about it. I’ve never known why. The only explanation I can think of is small-town politics, maybe; my dad worked for the government and with children, so it might have been a scandal.
When I was a teenager, we lived in a different but also very LDS community. Again, a neighbor reported suspicions of abuse to the bishop. I talked to a church teacher and my bishop about it. The teacher called LDS Social Services and was told, as near as I can remember, that if there were no bruises and unless I was afraid of severe harm from my dad there was nothing to be done. I felt like I had made too big of a deal of being punched, kicked, and thrown down stairs. Things were honestly not as bad as they used to be when I was easier to knock around. My parents would often assure us that we were not abused, and here was their evidence — even LDS Services didn’t think so.
My bishop encouraged me to stay in the home and gave me a blessing that I could do so. I felt real strength from that blessing, but the next couple years were hard. Fortunately, my dad ignored me for the most part (maybe out of fear I’d report him again?), but my mom couldn’t forgive the damage I’d done to the reputation of “the family.” But I felt strongly at the time that it was right for me to stay. I wonder if I’d be as close with my siblings now if I had left then. Also, I had extreme social anxiety and perhaps moving out at the time would have been even harder than staying.
The bishop was very sympathetic at first, but as he met with my dad he seemed less interested in the situation. I’ve always assumed it was because he decided it wasn’t actually serious, and I felt stupid for causing drama. He told me my dad had a strong testimony of the eternal nature of the gospel, but just didn’t know how to be a good father. And that was that until I was 18 and moved out (following one final incident where my dad charged at me but was stopped by a sibling).
All in all many things were done right, and maybe some things weren’t. I especially appreciated the teacher who continued to sympathize with me even if I didn’t have bruises and who never made me feel my pain wasn’t enough to matter. I needed that more than I needed to be removed from my home or for my dad to be disciplined by the church.
At age fourteen I was sexually abused by a missionary for months. I have never had any support. My mother does not acknowledge the abuse. The missionary was from Huntington Beach California aged twenty five. It destroyed me for decades. I still suffer.
Reposting as I don’t think post loaded. At age 14 I was molested for months by a 25 year old missionary from Huntington beach California. Our family were converts and he groomed me using the plan of salvation to manipulate and degrade me to do terrible things. My mother didn’t care. It destroyed me for years. I still suffer. I imagine him having a good position in the church, while the abuse still haunts me.
I was sexually abused by my older brother. I can’t remember when it started but it went on for at least 2 years and ended when I was 11. He was 5 years older than me. I didn’t tell anyone for years because I knew that one of two things would happen: a) no one would believe me. That was par for the course when I was a kid. b) I would destroy my family and be blamed for it.
On the outside we had a perfect looking mormon family but on the inside it was far from it. I clung to fairy-tale stories because the princess always goes through hell before she gets out and finds herself happily-ever-after. I honestly still cling to those stories.
I forgave my brother and long time ago, I figured that’s what Jesus wanted me to do. The church stresses the family… or rather the picture perfect family, and I always tried to be very obedient. I actually held a grudge against my mother for what had happened to me. I couldn’t come forward but she should have seen the signs, she was abused as a child too. I always felt hostility from my mom… still do, she turns everything into a contest. Maybe some part of her did know something was wrong, but most likely she just didn’t care enough to notice. When my nieces started vandalizing their dolls I spoke up and told everyone that it was a sign of abuse. I found an organization called little warriors and vowed to never sit by and let something happen to a child I knew.
That segways into my ex husband and I trying to adopt. I finally came out to him and our social workers about the abuse I survived as a child. I also said that I’d educated myself and was determined to have the cycle end with me. The social worker who did our home study said that was an excellent answer and cleared us for adoption. I however kept my mouth shut about the abuse that was currently happening in my marriage. A couple years later I was willing to admit the abuse to my self and find the support I needed to get out. My emotionally abusive husband went and talked to the social worker about how I was having a melt down about my childhood abuse and I must be somehow projecting it on him and that’s why I left. I was livid when he relayed the conversation to me!
The abuse I suffered as a child was in no way like the abuse I suffered as an adult. As a child I was exposed to sex way to early and in a very unhealthy way but I was still me. I knew there was a point when I was safe from my abuser and I’m fairly certain he felt remorse for it. The abuse from my husband was sneaky and manipulative. He was gaslighting me, breaking down every belief I had of my self and the world around me. Raping me but saying it didn’t count. Punishing me withholding sex and giving me silent treatments. Telling me that he’s not attracted to me because I gained a few pounds, while he went out and cheated on me on at least 4 occasions. But the biggest differences are, he wasn’t sorry and I wasn’t going to stay quiet.
My ex husband has gone to great lengths to discredit me and I’m so glad that I was already on my way out of the church because the damage they would have done might have killed me. Starting with that social worker who was a member of our stake. The members have heard a much different version of the story and think that I’m mentally unstable.
A member of his ward was visiting my sisters ward a few towns over and she asked how I was dealing with him leaving me. My jaw hit the floor he’s actually telling people that he left me! Not only that, they think I abused him! People who know me believe him, my best friend who saw his treatment of me believes him.
His abuse was not only swept under the rug, it was turned around to villainize me.
I WAS a victim, now a survivor, of incest at the actions of my grandfather, who was a member in good standing, High Priest, and so on, until he confessed his actions on other family members to his priesthood authority.
No one in my family talks about what happened to the others. Nobody in my family knew about me until recently, when after years of self-abuse and unhealthy coping, I finally started the repentance process, was excommunicated and am trying very hard to find my way back. I did not repeat the cycle of abuse and incest, but the damage I’ve done has hurt my family.
This is difficult to write. I don’t want to stand in judgement, nor do I want the responsibility of deciding how this all works out. My own salvation is hard enough.
I do feel, based on my experience, that these issue aren’t addressed or spoken of, by anyone. My grandfather’s priesthood leaders knew of his actions and did nothing to protect grandchildren and great grandchildren. My grandmother knew, and as hard as it was to face that, she never warned nor did she guard against it happening again.
My Uncle, also a church leader, knew, and did nothing, said nothing.
I found this all out as I started my own journey of repentance and forgiveness. It hasn’t made things any easier to understand or overcome.
My Bishop has stopped talking to me. My Stake President has stopped talking to me. In spite of my best efforts to do what I’ve been told were the right things. Meanwhile, members of my extended family who’ve known about, and in some cases enabled, continued abuse continue to serve in high callings in the Church.
My testimony is my own. I’ve stood before God and confessed my sins. I don’t stand in judgement. I do stand as a witness that these things happened, were not dealt with, and have perpetuated in my life hardships that can only be fixed by the Atonement of Christ. But perhaps they won’t be fixed in this life.
The abuse I experienced has blackened me and my life. Those around me that now know that I’ve been through barely acknowledge me. I have to say that I was better off when I hid what happened.
I’d be willing to be interviewed.
I was adopted at age eight from South America in the early 80’s by a Mormon family in Salt Lake City Utah. I was an orphan and was happy to be able to be give an opportunity to have real parents and a family since I never remember my own.
Shortly after I was with my new family my adopted father began to molest me on an almost daily basis. He was a prominent member of the Mormon community and love by almost everyone in the ward. When I turned eight I was not allowed to be baptized for several months and I did not understand why. I later found out that my adopted father had a long history of sexual deviations and was envolved in soliciting young male prostitutes before I was even adopted. He had also engaged in sexual behavior with an eighteen year old young man in the ward but was never prosecuted because of the young mans age.
I was not able to be baptized because he was “trying to be worthy” to baptize me because he had “reverted” back to that behavior. He was just trying to get better at lying to his bishop because he was sexually abusing me when he did “become worthy” to baptize me.
My adopted “father” was also a scout master. May times he would have camp outs with the scouts in our back yard and would wait for boys to fall asleep and abuse me in the middle of the night surrounded by other sleeping boys in the tent.
The abuse continued for three years until I had the courage to tell on him. He was arrested but down played the abuse and was never put in prison but was given probation and counseling.
My adopted mother was not much better. She hated me and was very physically and emotionally abusive with me.
My adopted parents got divorced and my adopted mother was a brutal tyrant who blamed me for destroying the marriage.
She and my adopted father had me placed in a home for boys because I was “a diciplinary problem”. He would come visit me at the the home to “help” me in my therapeutic sessions. He manipulated the system, he manipulated the counsellors. I was the one who was “locked up” for telling on him. My life was a living hell and sometimes I still get choked up thinking about it. While I was at the school I was made to feel like my “feminine” manners may have lead me to be more approachable to perpetrators. The boys home broke my spirit and I knew I had no choice but to stop fighting and conform to what my Mormon parents wanted.
Four months later I was returned to my adopted mothers home and I had become disciplined and more manageable. During a three year period my adopted father got visiting rights back with my brothers and sisters and eventually became “great friends” with the judge and manipulated the system so he got visiting rights with me. He also “became worthy” to go back to the Mormon church. Shortly after that he began molesting me again even worse and more intense than before. He got rebaptised during this time and was molesting me as well.
It took me years to finally tellin him again in my high school years.
I have been to years and years of counseling and can honestly say that I feel that I have become a healthy and self aware human being.
Sorry to get into such a long story but I had to at least touch the surface of my experience in hopes that it will help someone else.
Thanks for reading.
I have recently become involved in a situation of past child sexual abuse of a female as the result of a marriage of a family member. This female was extremely emotionally damaged by her abuse as a child and teen and has never effectively dealt with it. She was from a very active LDS family also, and the Family member who abused her has risen in LDS ranks. I would like to have someone recommend a good counseling group for ex LDS survivors of such abuse.
I would like to know the status on this. Is this still a podcast in the making? Is there anything being pursued against the church? And I’m really wondering if this happens on a higher level? When Grant Palmer talked of “hair-raising” acts committed by higher-level leaders…. this, of course, is what came to mind. That might be jumping to conclusions, but as a survivor myself (before my membership in the church), it’s the obvious thing to my mind.
This isn’t the Burton family by chance?
I’m interested in the Grant Palmer quote here. What source? Thank you!
Nardil is way more effective than SSRI anti-depressants in treating social anxiety and depression.
Dr Brian Neil Talarico, North Bay Psychiatrist Has been convicted of child molestation, an possession of child pornography on his computer. Sexually molesting a young boy… He had previous convictions for child molestation in 1990 and 2001. After his parole in 2006… Dr. Talarico Brian Works for North Bay Regional Health Centre, and elsewhere… despite his background, and numerous complaints against him of abuse, fraud, negligence, and imprisonment. he destroys childrens lives, and we’re so sick and tired of the injustice.