What the Actual F***?!?

So, I guess the reason we have all those billions is to pay off settlements in civil lawsuits for sexual abuse?

There will be and should be hell to pay.

Burn Kirton McConkie and everyone behind this “risk management” call-line to the ground.

Comments

  1. Add to this that a judge did not approve the BSA settlement because the *church* insisted on broad protections against liability in abuse cases as part of their $250M payment. Not just broad protections in BSA cases, in ALL cases.

  2. HokieKate says:

    How the hell do multiple bishops, and I suppose everyone privy to the excommunication, let that go on and not report anything?????

  3. I know. I read it this morning and thought I was going to throw up.

  4. My heart breaks for those girls.

    Just as a reminder- this is what patriarchy does. It doesn’t protect women and children, it protects itself. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  5. So, the Mor(m)on bishop told other bishops, talked to the wife about how to stop the abuse, talked to lawyers about it. Seems the only people it was kept confidential from was law enforcement.

    This is what I don’t get. Mormon bishops can excommunicate the offender, but not make him accountable to the victim in any way shape or form. He can even be “totally repentant” and never have completed restitution asked for by a victim, just because he has paid his dues to the church. As if the crime is against the church not the child. As if actually involving the victim in his “repentance process” and making sure her needs are considered is just more than the church can actually manage. Yeah, I am putting words in scare quotes because those words do not mean a blankety blank thing to the church.

    This “the church cares more about the soul of the offender than they do about the physical or emotional well being of the child” problem, is what killed my testimony. But not when it was me that was being neglected by the church. I didn’t actually see it until I was a social worker dealing with how the church treated my clients compared to how it treated their abusers. The church knows how to Molly coddle sinners, but it is clueless when dealing with the sinned against.

    When I was the victim trying to heal, I just blamed myself as if for whatever reason I was the one who was totally worthless to god. I couldn’t really get over the victim mentality of blaming myself for the abuse when the church was treating my father like royalty and treating me like I was horrible and “unforgiving” and had leprosy because, gee there were emotional scars left over from childhood, so that was proof to the church that I was some kind of sinner, if they could only figure out what sin I had to be lying about.

    But when I started to have clients who told me their bishop had just called their abusive husband to be elders quorum president, one week after they went into that same bishop with a broken arm and tried to get the bishop to help with the violence at home. When I had an adult who was molested as a child who at eleven years old told her bishop that her father was having sex with her, and after her father denied any abuse, punished her for lying. Or the girl who complained to her bishop that her father was French kissing her, feeling her up, and digitally penetrating her, just told the girl it wasn’t a problem as it wasn’t sexual intercourse. Or the girl whose older brother was getting ready to go on a mission and she told her bishop that this brother had been raping her. The bishop told the girl not to ruin her brother’s life and he went of his mission. Or, let’s see, when I went up after sacrament meeting to mention to the bishop that the “home teacher” who had just blessed a baby for his HT family and then blessed the sacrament meeting really should not be publicly using him priesthood with his wife sitting in the congregation covered in bruises and the whole ward talking about the flagrant spouse abuse that was going on. I gently reminded the man that spouse abuse was grounds for disfellowship. The bishop excused the whole thing as he didn’t want to publicly embarrass the man. But what about the congregation taking the sacrament blessed by an obviously unworthy priesthood holder? What about the public embarrassment of the wife sitting in church while her “righteous priesthood holding husband” made a mockery of his wedding vows. I keep HOPING that the church has changed because all these stories are decades old. But the church keeps right on screwing up by putting the male priesthood holding sinner as more important to “save his soul” than his victims.

    It just seems to me that the priesthood only cares about the priesthood, not women beaten by their husbands, not children molested or raped by family members.

    Mostly it seems to me that the church just doesn’t get it that experiencing abuse makes people feel like there is something terribly wrong with them, and that when the church takes the side of the abuser, it confirms in the mind of the victim that they are really the one that God hates.

    I started to be embarrassed to be Mormon while I was a social worker, because I saw our untrained and ignorant clergy making abuse cases worse for the victim, while clergy from other religions supported the victim and stood firmly in the corner of victim instead of joining the abuser and supporting him. Then I took a good hard look at my church, and admitted that it damaged my mental health to the point that when I was active, I became suicidal. I would get myself in therapy and as I started feeling better about myself and then I would go inactive. Then, stupid me, I missed church and returned and pretty soon I found myself having problems or even suicidal again. I would get into counseling and talk about my abusive childhood, feel better about myself, go inactive and be happy for a few years, miss church….. After repeating this cycle many times, I realized that church in many ways is abusive, especially in the way it treated me and my mother by putting us as so worthless to God and treating my father as god junior, a mini god over us.

    No, this article doesn’t suprize me one bit.

  6. “this is what patriarchy does. It doesn’t protect women and children, it protects itself.” I don’t see how the church was protecting itself by advising the bishop to not report this to the police. When the Bishop found out, the church had zero legal liability. Still has no legal liability. So you can say the Bishop should’ve reported it but the fact he was advised not to can hardly be attributed to the church protecting itself and putting institutional liability first.

    I wonder what happens in cases in cases where a member of the clergy reports abuse to the police? It sort of becomes a his word against the abuser’s word doesn’t it? Unless law enforcement is able to come up with more evidence as a result of the report.

    I’m also astounded, but maybe I shouldn’t be, that this man was uploading videos of the abuse to the internet with no consequences or investigation.

  7. Christel says:

    Sadly, this refusal to report abuse allegations and confessions within the church is not new and is ongoing everywhere, so there likely will not be “hell to pay” until the members who accept these callings of authority refuse to comply with the church’s cynical CYA legal advice. Yes, the church should embrace mandatory reporting, but until it does, the bishops should follow their own consciences and report even in the face of contrary advice from the church.

  8. I don’t want to say that this isn’t an inexcusable failing by Kirton McConkie and/or the Church, but I will say that I want to know more to determine where the failing lies. Exactly what did the bishop know? Beyond vague “abuse”, what did the member admit to the bishop? Could the bishop have reasonably known that the abuse was both as severe as later turned out to be the case and was ongoing? What did the bishop tell the help line? Did the help line attorney actively encourage not reporting, or merely state (accurately) that the law does not require reporting in that case? I know the bishop said he was told not to report, but did he misunderstand the advice? Is he intentionally or unintentionally misremembering the advice to try to salvage his reputation? Did the help line attorney tell the bishop to encourage the abuser to report himself to authorities?

    In lawsuits like this, the plaintiff gets the first move to tell and frame the story. If it turns out that the facts are as framed by the plaintiff, then yeah, what the actual f? But the fact is we don’t really know if that’s the case.

    This will certainly cause people to question whether there should be clergy-penitent privilege, but I think removing the privilege or setting a policy to ignore it is short-sighted. Privileged communications are protected because confidentiality in certain conversations and relationships provides a societal good. In the case of a penitent confessing to clergy, in the absence of the privilege and in the presence of a mandatory reporting statute, how many people will confess serious offenses to their clergy? However, if a person knows that they can speak with their clergy and that the conversation will be protected, there is at least a possibility that the clergy can encourage the offender to cease the offense and report themselves to authorities. Changing the law on this likely won’t help the next victim.

  9. I think we should err on the side of having law investigate, rather than being concerned about “ruining lives of good priesthood holders”. Just like for rape, the number of false reports are miniscule compared to the actual numbers happening.
    For all the talk of “the threat of punishment is a good deterrent”, we’re much less eager to make public things that affect those we see as “good people”.
    Root it out. There may be bits missed and pain caused to other bits of the garden, but trying to hide and ignore the weeds just lets more weeds grow.

  10. Am I remembering my New Testament correctly? “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that his priesthood leaders protect him so a millstone doesn’t get hanged about his neck, and he is drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    This is a horrific example of toxic patriarchy. Do you think this kind of situation would happen if the bishops had been women? Hell no. I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet that EVERYONE in this whole chain of disaster, bishops, helpline operators, lawyers was male.

  11. your food allergy says:

    Mac: “So you can say the Bishop should’ve reported it but the fact he was advised not to can hardly be attributed to the church protecting itself and putting institutional liability first.”

    Maybe the church is protecting itself by avoiding a lawsuit from a wrongly accused/reported person? But even if not, what moral justification can there be for the church to advise the bishop to not report?

    Dsc: “In lawsuits like this, the plaintiff gets the first move to tell and frame the story.”

    It’s possible the church lawyers said other things that frame the story differently but were not included in this write-up. They are, however, quoted as insulting the plaintiffs as interested in a “money-grab.” If that’s the best they can do, it’s not looking good.

  12. “But even if not, what moral justification can there be for the church to advise the bishop to not report?”

    If every time a member confessed a crime to the bishop, the bishop reported that crime, then members would no longer confess crimes to the bishop, depriving everyone involved of an opportunity for the bishop to urge the member to cease the behavior and self-report.

    And yeah, William Maledon’s words were unhelpful and he ought to be dropped from the case just for that comment.

  13. Dsc, I’d say let fewer confess. We’ve more than enough to do from investigating the accusations than waiting to do anything until someone feels bad enough to confess.

  14. Addressing DSC’s suggestion that the bishop here might have misinterpreted the advice from the helpline. That’s certainly possible. But the details in the article about how the helpline operates are far more disturbing than a single misunderstanding. In particular, all helpline notes are reportedly destroyed each day, and it this appears there is absolutely no centralized case tracking or follow up from HQ. This is a system designed to protect the central Church from liability. It will predictably fail victims of abuse. A system designed to protect victims and their families in these awful and complex circumstances would look very different. There would be social workers and therapists, as well as ecclesiastical leaders with special training. There would be follow-up. There would be case tracking.

  15. your food allergy says:

    DSC: “If every time a member confessed a crime to the bishop, the bishop reported that crime, then members would no longer confess crimes to the bishop, depriving everyone involved of an opportunity for the bishop to urge the member to cease the behavior and self-report.”

    In cases of domestic abuse, I would argue that depriving bishops of this opportunity to possibly make a report happen seems a necessary price to pay for the opportunity to definitely make the report happen by the bishop.

  16. This is horrific. It is so different from my experience with the hotline. I live in a state with a mandatory reporting obligation and when I called the hotline, 2 times in 10 years, it was an unequivocal instruction to “report to the authorities and here is the number.”

  17. Dsc, who cares if the “penitent” confesses and nothing is then done to stop the harm, either by the “penitent” or the clergy? Where is the societal good there?

    Also, there are numerous examples in the media of our church and others not reporting when the victim has told the bishop of his or her abuse by a family member or other ward member. The priest-penitent privilege does not come into play there. The answer should be, at least in cases of sexual abuse of a minor, “Brother or Sister X, I am glad you came to me with this issue. As part of your repentance process and following my duty of protection of your children and the other children on this ward, you must take responsibility for your actions and I will therefore report you to the authorities, including the police and CPS. We can go together to the police station now if you prefer.” The priest-penitent privilege arises out of the Free Exercise clause, not out of a secular sense that it provides a societal good. The church can change its stance on this issue at any time.

  18. The church’s attorney’s argument in the article says it all: “Whatever moral or public policy arguments one could make that the church should have told authorities that Paul Adams was raping his daughters are irrelevant.” In other words, the church’s defensive position is purely legal and ignores the moral implication of what should have been done because THE MORAL THING TO DO IS IRRELEVANT. How can the church maintain this defense and claim to be led by Jesus, who excoriated the pharisees for their legalism and hypocrisy?

  19. Men who fail to protect children are not real men. If the term “patriarchy” means anything positive, it is that.

    You learn of sexual abuse, you do everything you can to stop it.

  20. As a family medical doctor, this bishop should have been better educated than most to recognize that the wife suffered from PTSD and had no control over her husband or the situation. AND, if a patient came to him and made this confession, he would report him to law enforcement. People are leaving churches, not just the LDS church, because leadership protects abusers and allows abuse to continue. The Church cannot be the centered on the family if fails to protect victims and allows abusers to continue like Morgan did.

  21. “Dsc, who cares if the “penitent” confesses and nothing is then done to stop the harm, either by the “penitent” or the clergy? Where is the societal good there?” If nothing is done, then there’s no societal good. But I don’t think that’s the case. I know of a case where a father confessed some kind of abuse to the bishop, and the bishop told the man that he needed to tell his wife. He did tell his wife, and she promptly took the kids and moved away. He’s now in jail. If the man knew that the bishop would immediately call police, would he have confessed? Or would he have kept it to himself and prolonged the abuse?

    There is some number of cases where an abuser relies on an expectation of confidentiality to confess to religious leaders who are then guided to ceasing their abuse and facing justice. There is also some number of cases in which the abuser would confess regardless of confidentiality that are kept from being reported because of the confidentiality. I don’t know what those numbers are, except that they are greater than zero in each case. If the latter is more than the former, then yeah, as a church, we should waive the privilege as a matter of course. But if the former is more than the latter, then there is a significant benefit to maintaining the privilege.

    I don’t know how we go about determining whether privilege helps or hinders protecting kids, but I do think that we should consider the possibility that by seeking justice for the case in front of us, we sacrifice being able to protect victims down the road.

  22. nobody, really says:

    “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.” – Arthur W. Jones, quoted often by Stephen R. Covey

  23. “The answer should be, at least in cases of sexual abuse of a minor, ‘Brother or Sister X, I am glad you came to me with this issue. As part of your repentance process and following my duty of protection of your children and the other children on this ward, you must take responsibility for your actions and I will therefore report you to the authorities, including the police and CPS. We can go together to the police station now if you prefer.'”

    Yup. I’m a psychologist and a mandatory reporter. I review this with every new patient and every time a patient starts to talk about things that I think might trigger a mandatory report. Do some people choose not to tell me things? I would think so. But I also know that I have to make far too many calls to CPS from people who told me things things knowing full well that I would report it. And most of them continued to work with me afterward.

  24. Dsc – The things is, your arguments are all about societal good as it relates to the abuser.

    What about societal good as it relates to the child? Why isn’t getting a child out of an abusive situation THE most important thing, both for that child and as a way for society to demonstrate a zero tolerance policy for abuse?

  25. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Maybe calling the authorities (legal authorities!) would have prevented other members in his Ward from going to him for counsel, or to confess and repent. If stopping the abuse resulted in every member of his Ward shunning him and never seeking counsel, it would have been worth it. But this Bishop knowingly sent an abusive father back to the children he was abusing. His inaction, predictably, contributed to further abuse.

  26. The $64,000 Answer says:

    It’s been a few years since I’ve visited this website. I first did so in the aftermath of the Barney case at BYU in 2016; the last time was after the Denson case involving Joseph Bishop in 2018. At that time, I warned that the LDS was busily replicating all the crimes and errors of my own Catholic Church. I also stated my belief that—again, drawing on the Catholic example—the task of seeing justice done was not the responsibility of the hierarchy alone, but a moral obligation on the part of each member of the LDS faithful. I don’t believe that I got a lot of support on these boards for the latter proposition.

    As the latest series of atrocities make clear, nothing about that basic moral calculus has changed. Such things happen because the LDS faithful, like their Catholic counterparts, have acquiesced in their happening—and continue to do so. The reasons are various (yielding to spiritual blackmail; peer pressure; rape-apologetic attitudes, etc.) but in the end they aren’t particularly significant, or interesting. The important point is that when confronted with manifest evil that calls for concrete and imperative action on the part of every LDS member, that action is lacking.

    If any of the contributors to this bulletin board is looking anywhere other than the mirror for the proximate cause of these events, or the identity of the person charged with rectifying them, he or she is looking in the wrong place.

  27. I explore the legal arguments (and some other stuff) over at Wheat & Tares. This is really, really bad. And terrible, incorrect legal advice IMO. Really quick draft because, well, this dropped today, but would love some other takes on the legal stuff.

    Stop Protecting Sexual Predators

  28. Addendum

    My wife is reading the comments

    For those of you who are trying defend the bishops in even the smallest way, just stop.

  29. “Burn Kirton McConkie and everyone behind this “risk management” call-line to the ground.”

    I think you mean, put a millstone around their necks and thrown them to the bottom of the sea.

  30. Scarred bishop says:

    When I was serving as a bishop, I called the “helpline” regarding 8 different situations. By the time I had finished my 5 years, I had lost the belief I had that the church cared about its members. I had learned how public newsroom statements of policy were different from what the actual policy was. I saw numerous cases of non-reporting, I saw a stake president threaten members with excommunication for talking to each other about a dangerous abuser. I got a secret internal email from a church employee telling me to prevent members from discussing an abuse case. I saw victims and victims’ families harassed by an abuser and the abuser’s family. Church lawyers sent me a message to leave out some facts in my testimony to authorities and to mislead the authorities. Was it witness tampering? And these were cases where no one was threatening to sue, just families picking up the pieces. The details of the policies are carefully reviewed by first presidency, so it is different from lower level people making mistakes. It is systematic, entrenched institutional dishonesty and callous disregard for the well-being of their members. I am glad the f-word was in the title of this post.

  31. HokieKate says:

    DLC, I am glad to hear that you received such guidance and assistance with the right number to call. I’m sorry you had to deal with it even once.

  32. of course the guy was border patrol, they attract so many psychopaths
    ———————————————–
    this is hard to stomach, protecting an institution from litigation over the physical safety of actual victims seems wholly at odds with what we preach, it’s definitely NOT example of leaving the 99 to save the one.

  33. I get why the church does not want to involve law enforcement: they don’t want to set the precedent that confession will involve law enforcement to discourage people from confessing. I’m torn though, as to the validity of this argument. Confession involves repentance, and repentance when breaking the law should involve law enforcement.
    I may have missed something in the article, but were the abusers at least excommunicated?

  34. MDearest says:

    It’s absolutely a problem of patriarchy protecting itself first and foremost. Exhibit A and B are Mac and DSC in the comments asking “what do we really know” about the crime, and proposing doubts and alternative theories about the proper way to handle this crime, and lending de facto support to the church’s policy by obfuscating liberally.

    Of course the church has bombproof protections from legal liability, because Kirton McConkie. But what the church further maneuvers to do, after securing its legal immunity, is to protect its reputation from bad gossip and publicity in the community. Except that’s the polar opposite of what every victim needs most— to have the crime revealed to the light of day, which is the only thing that puts a stop to it. In the news story, the expert case worker says that abuse festers whenever it’s kept secret. And every case involving the church that I know of shows a huge effort to hush up all information, and the effort to support the victims are almost nil. And the good ole boy network is free to bandy opinions that dismiss the best interests of victims.

  35. “The things is, your arguments are all about societal good as it relates to the abuser.” Then you’ve misread my argument or I haven’t communicated clearly. The benefit of encouraging confession is that it provides a means that somebody can do something about it. Clergy who receive a confession can take actions to protect victims (although perhaps limited by confidentiality requirements) and encourage the communicant to turn themselves into civili authorities as part of the process of repentance. That is cold comfort if it doesn’t work, but if the choice is between limited efficacy of the spiritual counsel and no one hearing the confession at all (which may prolong the abuse), then something is better than nothing.

  36. I guess I’m still not seeing it. The argument seems to be sacrifice-saving-the-little-girl-who-is-being-repeatedly-raped so that hopefully other abusers feel safe about coming forward…? And when abusers do feel safe enough come forward, it’s better to work at convincing the abuser to repent rather than saving the child who in that situation is being abused…? I mean, realistically, how often does someone repeatedly raping a child just decide to stop/repent?

    I don’t know if I could live with myself knowing I’d let this happened to this child while I’d stood to the side doing nothing.

  37. ShySaint says:

    Interestingly, there’s no story in Deseret News.

    I guess it didn’t meet their criteria for “news”.

  38. Kristine says:

    “I may have missed something in the article, but were the abusers at least excommunicated?”

    Probably not, because I believe church disciplinary action is usually taken AFTER a conviction. Catch-22.

  39. nobody, really says:

    “I may have missed something in the article, but were the abusers at least excommunicated?”

    No, excommunication/withdrawal of membership is a measure reserved only for the most heinous of sins, like speaking up about abusive leaders and youth protection.

  40. Mortimer says:

    1) Scarred Bishop, The most devout Catholic man I have ever met was called upon to lead a lawsuit against his own diocese, when part of the Catholic Abuse Scandal exploded in his hometown. He received terrible treatment from fellow Catholics and his leaders who frequently asked him “how could hurt the mother church, fight against her? Why, as a Catholic, do you not recuse yourself and let someone from another faith take the case? His response:

    “I am suing my church because I love it, I have a responsibility as a faithful member to it, and will do my part, use my talents, to protect it. Identifying truth, cleaning out predators and stopping abuse, and protecting them victims is doing just that. Those within the church that also live it will support me in this.”

    He loved it enough to fight for it.

    It begs the question- why don’t the folks at the helpline and among the powers that be in SL love the church that way? We need the care and concern to address festering wounds, not just keep the spit-shine going.

    How much do you love the church community, and do you want to help it clean up it’s act? If so, hire an attorney- show them your documents, tell the story you’ve told here, and see if you need to contribute to an existing lawsuit or raise your own.

    What you’ve shared sounds illegal, you should get legal counsel. This blog is not legal counsel. You’ve seen too much though your own experiences and know too much now with this breaking news to sit on your thumbs. Consider this a prick of your conscience. Even if the statute of limitations for your particular experiences has tolled (unlikely- as sexual abuse is typically long), your documents could be vital evidence for existing suits or your own. Lawyer-up, time to lawyer-up.

  41. Chadwick says:

    Thank you MDearest and RexT.

    In metro stations all over the world, there are signs that say “If you see something, say something.” I think that should apply here as well full stop. I’m otherwise too sad to type anything else.

  42. according to the AP news article, he was excommunicated after confessing to the second bishop. did not stop the abuse.

    hence, really unsure about the value of confession vs. the value of reporting.

  43. ReTx, the choice is not between report to the police and do nothing. There are other measures that clergy could take without violating confidentiality. Those may be to warn others about a general threat, counsel others who may know about the abuse to report it, and take disciplinary action within the church. All of those are clearly unsatisfactory compared to involving civil authorities. It could also be that it’s worth it to abrogate confidentiality/privilege in the face of imminent future conduct (as opposed to past conduct). So if congregant comes in and says “I’ve done x terrible thing”, privilege/confidentiality remain, but if congregant comes in and says “I plan to do x terrible thing,” the clergy would have a duty to report.

  44. I guess there are acts so heinous, so horrific that warning ‘others’ in a general kind of way, kicking someone out of a church community, or only reporting if the person specifically says they are going to commit the crime again in the future all comes off as pretty much doing nothing. From the child’s perspective it *is* doing nothing.

  45. It feels to me like carefully instructing bishops to not report in the hopes that that will encourage more people to confess is the abuse response analog of trickle-down economics. Just like how poor people now can’t get a direct benefit because it has to go through the rich people first, and then will maybe theoretically help them, or someone like them, later, abuse victims can’t be helped in the now, because in the now we have to be concerned with the abusers, and maybe theoretically, some care and concern will trickle down to the victims later. Or to later victims. Really, it’s just a story we tell ourselves to make it feel okay.

  46. I just am done. By their fruits you know them. I have been out of the church (trans stuff y’know), now I think I will finally have the church out of my heart and am just sickened by the high institutionalized culpability, prolonged over agonizing years for these children. And you can bet if it has happened once, it has happened 10 times. But once is too much. The church is about protecting their power, not the flock. Well they can go flock themselves. Done with the gaslighting and the cruelty. Removing MoTab from my Apple Music, about all I can do except blow them kisses here. And you know what? I feel more peace about this decision than I ever felt even in any orchestrated youth conference Aspen grove testimony meeting ever. At this point I am not even missing the veil or initiatory ordinances, which I have always loved. Y’all we need to live and not just sit back and feed those 15 fat gassholes. Protect the children.

  47. Dsc. That behavior Model hurt kids. Report to save kids no matter what! I am a family Physician, like the first bishop, and I have a mandatory reporting responsibility. When kids are and have been hurt, CALL THE COPS!

  48. Dsc gets it.

    Many other commenter are convinced if only we had the right millstone policy then bad guys would be at the bottom of the sea and we’d all be better off.

    If you see something say something. Nice advice. Ever considered how it could be weaponized? I’m sure there’s a person or two in the middle east who knows first hand the sadness that can come from a weaponized confession (that may not even be true, but has plausibility). A few others smoldering in a drone strike most likely.

    I wish the world were as simple as so many commenters assume it is. But sadly, I think the world is as f’d up, to use our OP’s language, precisely BECAUSE of people like the commenters.

    If you think you aren’t condemned by your (in)actions, and if you don’t approach God with fear and trembling, it’s because you haven’t considered how you’ve used (and not used) your agency and capabilities seriously enough yet.

    We all probably deserve to be drowned in baptism on some way, there’s a ghastly thought. Except the little ones of course.

  49. S.pop…
    7 years. 7 years? 7 years!!! Really?1?!

    Read MJ’s (the little girl) comment in the AP article.
    You are concerned how this might have been weaponized? Talking about weapons, the “help line” is what really did real damage here.

    Your comment has no sense of proportion.

  50. Kristine says:

    Ziff, the odd thing to me is that in states where bishops ARE mandatory reporters, they have generally gotten it right. There’s no good reason to have the goal be minimal compliance with the law, rather than seeking justice.

  51. Kristine says:

    Spop–these are not “weaponized” accusations of victims. They’re the confessions of perpetrators. Helping people repent involves helping them face consequences and helping them stop sinning. Getting their victims out of the perpetrators’ reach is the right thing to do for both victim and perpetrator. You can love the Church and not defend its indefensible practices.

  52. lastlemming says:

    If I may interrupt with a brief public service announcement (aimed more at lurkers than commenters):

    If you suspect a child in the Church is being abused, do NOT take your concerns to the bishop. If you are certain it is happening, go straight to the police. If you are not certain, call Child Protective Services. You can find the phone number at childhelphotline dot org (they also have a national hotline number you can call).

  53. Seems to me clergy-penitent privilege should be reserved for a clerical process that can demonstrate it produces positive change. If the church is going to accept responsibility for handling any kind of assault internally, then we need to demonstrate we have a playbook of credible interventions with evidence showing they prevent the assault from reoccurring and perhaps even get care for the victim. This might even involve accepting shared liability if the assault continues.

    If, as a church, we can’t demonstrate that we can take effective action preventing further harm to victim and rehabbing the perpetrator — or if we protest that we don’t want to accept shared liability — we’re demonstrating that we cannot accept that responsibility. This implies confessions should not be privileged, and instead must involve giving the perpetrator the option of engaging the legal system themselves or being reported by the bishop.

    This is made starkly obvious by the outcome of the Adams case. Let’s imagine the primary concern of the church needs to be honoring the confession of perpetrator as part of a process for repentance. In what sense was that process actually served by the choices of the church? What appears to have happened is that no substantial reckoning was made, no effective accountability ever occurred, nothing apparently aided the confessor in forsaking their sins. So they continued in them, and eventually, when the truth DID come out to law enforcement, the perpetrator was in so deep he had no hope of leniency under either the law or in the court of public opinion, and chose suicide as an option rather than submit himself to the rigor of either.

    I don’t believe this failure represents a final judgment on the value / goodness on the church. But I do believe that if we *don’t* look at this and declare it unacceptable and ask how we do better, or worse, if we disparage critics on this, then we inadvertently bear our testimony that we do not believe in repentance in any sense that matters, and in the face of that problem any merits there may be to clergy-penitent privilege would be moot.

    Failures in an institution do not condemn it. Failures to reckon with failures do. Most especially condemnation of would-be reckonings.

  54. Amen. Reading the AP article was so sad, and infuriating. What a shame.

  55. @W, that’s such a good point. The Bishop failed this man by not setting him up with appropriate help, even if that meant he’d face jail time. And now he’s dead. The advice given to the Bishop failed every single person in the story.

    @Spop, that’s ridiculous. Read the article and then decide if you think the right call was to do nothing – which allowed a girl to be repeatedly raped for 7 years, film her own abuse, allow a 6-week old baby to be abused, and absolutely no healing for the man ever. You want to err on the side of protecting men in power from false accusations, even though the data shows that false accusations are rare AND all commenters are asking for is for the bishop to report to the authorities who are trained to INVESTIGATE child above. I’d say we err on the side of protecting the least of these, because that’s what Jesus said to do.

  56. I’m a professional mandatory reporter due to the nature of my job. If someone disclosed to me that they had been sexually abused and I didn’t report it, I would be fired and possibly face legal consequences. The fact that so many people knew about the abuse these poor girls suffered through, did NOTHING about it, and aren’t being held accountable for their inaction is disgusting.

  57. Meanwhile, the Church is being sued by a family in Oregon for the opposite reason – for disclosing their man’s child sexual abuse to law enforcement. Maybe it’s the attorneys and lawmakers who need to get their act together on this.

    https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/crime/2020/01/08/turner-woman-mormon-lds-church-child-sex-abuse-lawsuit-oregon/2832368001/

  58. Clergy are mandator reporters in Oregon, so attorneys seem to have given correct advice. Presumably, the suit will be quickly dismissed.

  59. I’m embarrassed for the author of this article and for bycommonconsent for publishing this post. It should be taken down. When more of the fact come out it will be seen that this post got it very wrong.

  60. The Church loves to remind us that all callings are equal – a bishop isn’t somehow more special or important than a nursery leader. And yet, the hotline is only for bishops. I don’t even know where a non-bishop would go to find the phone number. And yet, there are nursery leaders who suspect (and are probably correct) that the precious babies in their charge are being physically and/or sexually abused.

    Presumably, if someone like a Primary president called the number, they would slam down the phone upon hearing a female voice on the line.

    This is not going to get better as long as women are systematically excluded from leadership. Because the emphasis is on protecting the hierarchy (and the male-only priesthood) at all costs.

  61. I’m embarrassed for JFK and his comment. It should be taken down. When more facts come out, it will be seen that his comment got it very wrong. Wow, that was easy to write. On the other hand, I’m thankful for all of the discussion and comments. Even if more ‘facts’ come out that prove something wrong in the original article, clearly something wrong did happen. And from the comments, it happened more than once and still does. Sheesh. Let’s just not talk about anything shall we?

  62. How did they get it wrong? A church member went to their bishop and confessed to sexually abusing his daughters. His infant daughter. He recorded the abuse and distributed as child porn. ALL illegal and immoral activities. The Bishop as a medical professional and knew he should report the activity. The system failed these girls.

  63. Chadwick says:

    @S.pop “If you see something say something. Nice advice. Ever considered how it could be weaponized? I’m sure there’s a person or two in the middle east who knows first hand the sadness that can come from a weaponized confession (that may not even be true, but has plausibility). A few others smoldering in a drone strike most likely.”

    Since you are responding to my comment I’ll clarify for the record. Firstly, in case you were not aware, we are all civilians here commenting on a non-military webpage. So there’s that. Second, yes I absolutely prefer to live in a society where family, neighbors, and even strangers are willing to look out for each other. In that world, the second daughter would have been spared sexual trauma. YMMV.

  64. almost at the last says:

    @Joni, all the numbers are available online.
    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/callings/church-safety-and-health/abuse-help-line?lang=eng

    “The help line is available for bishops and stake presidents to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone numbers are shown below.

    United States and Canada: 1-801-240-1911 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-1911
    United Kingdom: 0800 970 6757
    Ireland: 1800 937 546
    France: 0805 710 531
    Australia: 02 9841 5454 (from within the country)
    New Zealand: 09 488 5592 (from within the country)

    I’d be interested to see if reddit or 4chan takes the numbers and pranks the heck out of them.

  65. Hard cases make bad law. I’m mildly amazed how many people are willing to automatically jettison the priest-penitent privilege forever based on this case alone—a privilege that has existed for more than a millennium.

    Ask yourself: how did the bishop know about the abuse in the first place? Because the perpetrator told him in confidence. Would the perpetrator have told him if he’d known the bishop would automatically turn around and call the cops? I guess we’ll never know for sure, but the odds seem very low. So at least in this case, the bishop had the ability to counsel, cajole, and persuade someone in that family to self-report. Without the privilege, we don’t even have that as a possibility. And it’s worth noting that in other public filings, the bishop did just that—he spent hours trying to convince the wife and older children to go to CPS, even offering to go with them. He told them to get counseling, knowing that counselors are mandatory reporters. At all points, it appears, they declined. (See here at exhibit 1, for example: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4489327-Exhibits-to-Osmond-Bar-Complaint-SLTRIB#document/p1). It is highly likely that none of that happens without the priest-penitent privilege, because the bishop would never have known in the first place. So again, ask yourself: would you prefer the bishop never knew, keeping in mind that many bishops ARE successful in getting people to self report?

    I’m okay with any nuanced view that says that on the balance of equities, either the relevant government or even the church should do away with the priest-penitent privilege and make all clergy mandatory reporters without any built-in exceptions. I wouldn’t agree, but I’d appreciate the insight. But to the extent you think this issue is simple, or that there’s only one way to see it—a which happens to coincide with the revulsion you had when you read the article—let me gently suggest (a) we’ve known for centuries that the calculus here is anything but simple because (b) the alternative might actually be worse.

  66. jimbob, I’m mildly amazed at the lawyerly myopia of your comment. I would say I’m shocked, but after years of reading this blog, I’m used to seeing it in your comments.

    Are you not troubled by the victims’ suffering in the Arizona case? Do you think it’s enough just to say that it’s a “hard case”? It’s not enough. The upshot of your comment appears to be that you are willing to sacrifice these children in order to preserve the clergy-penitent privilege. The burden of that argument is much heavier than you seem to realize. These children and others like them are not yours to sacrifice, even by the remove of an abstract argument. If you can’t see that and acknowledge it, your rhetorical effort will fail. Nobody will trust you.

    After you find your heart, you will have to make an argument that explains how the clergy-penitent privilege actually protects victims. Your comment here only explains how the privilege preserves the power of the clergy.

  67. “ you will have to make an argument that explains how the clergy-penitent privilege actually protects victims”

    In case I wasn’t clear: a bishop in the know can help families and victims and perpetrators self report, ending the abuse. A bishop in the know can tell the victim that it was never their fault and that there’s light ahead. A bishop in the know can get and often pay for professional counseling for victims. But a bishop who doesn’t know can’t do any of those things. And I’m suggesting that the priest-penitent privilege may be the only reason the bishop here was in the know in the first place.

    My heart grieves for this family.

  68. jimbob,

    In this case, the bishop in the know (and the following one) felt like they couldn’t do anything because the hotline told them to not go to the cops (according to the reporting). That may have been to preserve priest-penitent confidentiality, but honestly priest-penitent confidentiality only exists in the loosest sense in our church. The sins and struggles of various members can and do get brought up in priesthood meetings, ward councils, and various other leadership meetings. We are not like the Catholics, where priests break the sanctity of the confession at the risk of excommunication. And, setting aside the feelings of the hypothetical child rapist for a moment, do you believe that the victims of such abuse will be more or less likely to approach a bishop if they know he is a mandatory reporter?

  69. The ways that a bishop in the know can help are no help at all if the bishop has the power to stop the abuse but chooses not to. Does the possibility of helping hypothetical future victims justify sacrificing the actual victims the bishop could have saved? That’s the argument you have to make.

    The clergy-penitent privilege does not consistently protect victims, but there is a group that it always protects: the clergy. The seal of confession in the Catholic Church was invented in medieval times, when the struggle for power between the church and secular authorities was one of the defining facts of life in Europe. The confessional seal was useful to the church because it asserted the church’s authority against secular powers. It shored up the church’s position as the place to go when people had problems.

    In our time, churches have much less civil power than they had a thousand years ago. But churches still fight to preserve their influence in believers’ lives. The clergy-penitent privilege gives legal leverage to churches, just as the seal of confession did a millennium ago. The privilege protects the clergy’s power to mediate between people and God, even when it makes the clergy morally complicit in ongoing crimes. Protecting victims is not the main function of the confessional seal.

  70. “Does the possibility of helping hypothetical future victims justify sacrificing the actual victims the bishop could have saved?” I’d widen it to all bishops in the church where this privilege applies, and lose the “hypothetical” language, but yes, that’s the gut-wrenching calculus.

  71. Wow, @jimbob.

    You are OK knowing that a girl was repeatedly raped from ages 5-12 and her little sister abused as early as 6 weeks old because a bishop was (incorrectly) advised he was not allowed to disclose abuse to authorities? That’s kind beyond the pale tbh. Where is the evidence – where – that keeping confession confidential has ever helped anyone? That is speculative. Yet we are certain that keeping it secret hurts people.

    The more I think about it the more I think that there’s this desire to maintain Church authority and Church hierarchies and anything that might threaten a bishop’s “authority” over his ward – like meddling secular child protective services – should be avoided. So basically, no clearer example of an instinct to protect patriarchy at all costs.

    It’s not about protecting future victims it’s about protecting the patriarchal order of things.

  72. I would put this question to the Church’s official representatives:

    In jurisdictions where members of the clergy are not legally required to report confessions of child abuse to civil authorities, does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advise bishops not to report confessions of child abuse?

    Please answer “yes” if the Church advises bishops not to report where reporting is not legally required.

  73. I’d also love to hear their answer to Loursat’s question.

    I’ve recently heard people claim that some states mandate clergy DON’T report and I’d also appreciate seeing any statute that says the same. (I have my doubts as to whether such statute exists in any state).

  74. The $64,000 Answer says:

    “I have my doubts as to whether such statute exists in any state.”

    No such statute exists in any state.

  75. Unfortunately, I don’t think the church is following its own doctrine on this topic. In D&C 42:79,81-86, the church is instructed to deliver offenders up to the “law of the land” in cases where he or she “kills”, “robs”, “steals”, or “lies”. Sexual abuse of a child is obviously more serious than embezzlement, shoplifting, or fraudulent business practices.

    If those verses were taken seriously, the presumption of church policy would presumably be to report all criminal offenses to governmental authorities, rather than try to deal with things internally on some other grounds.

  76. @mark d I wonder if a person confessed embezzling church funds of the church would decline to report to authorities … hah!

  77. Elisa, the comparable question is somewhat different. If an embezzler of church funds confessed to the bishop, would the church require the embezzler to stop embezzling? Or would the church tell the bishop that he can try to persuade the embezzler to stop stealing money and to report himself to authorities, but the bishop cannot report the embezzler to the police and the bishop cannot release the embezzler from the calling that gives access to funds?

    The issue here is protecting the victim of a crime. Where the church itself is the victim, would the church take action to stop the criminal activity on the basis of a confidential confession?

  78. I need to add that there is an important difference between cases where a child is being victimized and cases where the church is being victimized. The church has the moral authority to make decisions about how to address financial crimes that affect the church and no one else. If the church wants to look the other way, it is within its rights to do so. The church has no moral authority to allow the ongoing rape of children. The answers to my questions would only illustrate whether the church would be consistent in enforcing the confidentiality of confessions to a member of the LDS clergy.

  79. Mark D.,
    Lawyers don’t consider the D&C when evaluating responses. They do consider the potential harm to their client (the Church). The victims were never considered.

  80. “because a bishop was (incorrectly) advised he was not allowed to disclose abuse to authorities”

    I disagree with this, and I think it’s the crux of the misunderstanding by most here. Could the bishop *legally* disclosed this without putting himself in *legal* jeopardy? Yes, according to the Arizona statute. But if we want to keep the priest-penitent privilege, which in most states requires a church to have a preexisting doctrine that it actually does keep confessions secret, we’d have to honor it. Hell, we’d need that just as a practical matter for incentivizing anyone to go into the bishop for help with even non-legal matters. No one is going to see a bishop with sensitive matters if they know confidences aren’t kept.

    “Where is the evidence – where – that keeping confession confidential has ever helped anyone?”

    This case. Right here. The worst and seemingly least contrite abuser you’ve ever heard of came in during a moment of clarity and told the bishop about his abuse. And then the bishop did everything in his power short of violating confidences and directives from the family to try to help them report–and heal, and express to them the love of the Savior. I’ll repeat that there is zero chance to my mind that this bishop would even be able to do that but for the priest-penitent privilege, because without it the abuser never comes to see him in the first place.

    I’ll concede that there’s almost certainly no way to provide an accurate global cost-benefit analysis of how many abusers are stopped in one way or another due *to* the priest-penitent privilege and how many never get reported because *of* the priest-penitent privilege. Those statistics seem unknowable to me, even if we wanted to track them. But the case at hand suggests as strongly as any that doing away with the privilege might not be the panacea you seem to be thinking. I’d worry it would lead to more unreported abuse rather than less.

  81. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    But, you see, in this case the Bishop prioritized advice from the helpline, and privileged the needs of the penitent over the very real, very urgent, and very dire needs of the child. It’s not that confessing to the Bishop led the father to confess to authorities. Speaking with the Bishop, and even a subsequent Bishop, wasn’t having much impact. The Bishops had reason to believe that it would continue, and it did continue. And they continued to enable the abuse by privileging confidentiality over intervention. The authorities didn’t get involved until the abuse was discovered from another country and investigated by federal agents. The cost-benefit analysis in this case is very clear. If the Bishop was fuzzy in this analysis during the initial conversation, things should have become much less fuzzy over the months and years that followed. The Bishops(s) put their needs, and the needs of the Church, and of the father, over the needs of the children. And that was a decision that was made countless times over many years – decisions directed by and supported by the institution of the Church. It’s one thing to turn a blind eye to something, it’s another to deliberately turn your back on someone. There was no blindness in this case, for anyone involved.

  82. jimbob I’ll repeat my earlier point that all of the “help” that the bishops gave to this family was of no use at all to the children, because the abuse continued. One way of looking at it is that the bishops utterly failed to help the children. Another way of looking at it is that the bishops became morally complicit in the crime because they had the power to stop the abuse but chose not to. It is bizarre to argue that the bishops helped anyone in this situation.

    It is also very strange to argue that strict confidentiality in every situation is necessary to induce confessions. I know that this is the traditional line, but I think it’s wrong. When people sincerely confess to a bishop, it’s because they believe that a religious authority can help them change for the better, not because they want someone to help them keep the crime secret. People who are guilty of crimes know that changing means being accountable. That’s especially true for horrendous crimes like this one. A reasonable person does not believe that they can confess to child rape without being held accountable under the law.

    jimbob, you claim that the rapist in the Arizona case came to the bishop “during a moment of clarity.” This is pure and fanciful speculation. For most people it takes clarity to confess. But child rapists are different from most people. I don’t rule out the possibility that the rapist had a “a moment of clarity,” but it is equally likely that the rapist confessed without any intention of stopping his crimes and with the belief that the bishop would not turn him in. This kind of behavior is another way abusers assert power over their victims. It is a way of showing the victim that no one will put a stop to the crimes even if they confess. Furthermore, even if the rapist confessed “in a moment of clarity,” he soon realized that the bishop was not going to report him. Imagine the thrill the rapist felt when he saw how this would increase his power! That would make him even less likely to surrender to police.

    The ability of criminals to manipulate the confessional seal by making insincere confessions has been known for centuries. It has even been the subject of popular crime stories! The clergy’s response has been to portray priests as tortured heroes who must suffer in silence out of loyalty to their priestly obligations. This is nothing more than the church appropriating to itself the suffering of victims whom the church has abandoned. As I also mentioned in a previous comment, the church is the only one whose interests are always protected by keeping confessions confidential under all circumstances. In a case like this one, the institution is protecting its own power at the expense of the family’s welfare.

    jimbob, you have said that the problem of confessional secrecy is complicated. I agree. Here is the bottom line: a policy of absolute secrecy in all cases does not account for the complexity of the problem. It is a very, very bad policy because in situations like the Arizona case it actually abets the victimization of children. It gives abusers resources to make the abuse even worse. It makes religious leaders morally complicit in horrific crimes. A wise policy of confessional secrecy must account for this fact. There is no question that the ability to keep confidences is a cornerstone of trust in all relationships. It’s appropriate to protect that in most confessional situations, but not in situations like the Arizona case. To be morally defensible, confessional secrecy cannot be absolute.

  83. “To be morally defensible, confessional secrecy cannot be absolute.”

    Maybe, and I think reasonable minds can disagree on that. But legally, it kind of has to be absolute, doesn’t it? Again, the law in Arizona (which is typical for laws in many states) provides protections for clergy who don’t report, but only so long as a doctrine or policy exists to keep confessions confidential. If we waive that privilege in difficult cases like this one, then we will struggle to demonstrate to future courts that we actually have a policy or doctrine that we honor and follow. (I would hate to be explaining to a judge that “Yes, we have a policy to keep confessions secret, except that sometimes we don’t when we don’t like the results.”) And again, to my mind abrogation of that privilege leads to less reporting rather than more.

    I’ve monopolized too much of this thread, so I will reiterate my first comment above and bow out: I think there are good reasons to have the privilege and I think this case shows good reasons not to have the privilege. People acting in good faith can come down on separate sides of this issue. But please disabuse yourself of the idea that this is a simple issue, or that the Church is only “maintaining the patriarchy” (whatever that means in this context), or that the church lawyers secretly like seeing children abused. Continuing to honor the privilege will lead to not stopping abuse of some children, but abrogating the privilege will also lead to not stopping the abuse of other children. It’s a harrowing bargain. The best you can hope for is picking the route that leads to the least amount of bad outcomes.

  84. “I would hate to be explaining to a judge that ‘Yes, we have a policy to keep confessions secret, except that sometimes we don’t when we don’t like the results.’”

    This sums up one of the things about this case that frightens me: the possibility that the Church’s policy is being determined as much by what its lawyers consider expedient as by concern for victims of abuse.

    I doubt that a policy of absolute secrecy is legally necessary. The language of the Arizona statute creating the privilege does not, in fact, hinge only on a doctrine or policy of confessional secrecy. It actually says that a member of the clergy is not required to report a confession of child abuse “if the member of the clergy . . . determines that [not reporting] is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.” The statute gives the decision to the individual bishop, according to his understanding of the concepts of the religion. I don’t think it would be that hard for a lawyer to argue that according to the concepts of our Church, a bishop can reasonably decide that the need for confidentiality is superseded by the needs of the victim in this case. There’s abundant support in the Church’s official statements about the paramount need to protect victims of child abuse.

    To further support that argument, all the Church needs to do is articulate the limitations of confessional secrecy, as a matter of general policy which will be applied with discretion according to the circumstances of each case. That’s more complicated than absolute secrecy, but it’s not unworkable as a legal matter. If there is case law that develops the Arizona statute in a direction that’s clearly incompatible with exceptions to confessional secrecy, that would be interesting to see. But the language of the statute itself does not require the Church to adopt absolute confessional secrecy.

    In general, laws giving deference to the beliefs and practices of a church are genuinely deferential. Courts don’t apply standards of strict logical consistency to a church’s teachings. If the LDS Church says that we observe confessional secrecy with some exceptions, then that’s the doctrine. Courts are extremely unlikely to say that’s legally invalid. And even if the court did have a problem with exceptions to confessional secrecy, there’s a perfectly logical explanation for the exceptions, as we have detailed in this thread. If you’re a lawyer, defending those particular exceptions might be a challenge, but that’s the job. And that particular argument would be an especially noble part of the job.

    We should also remember Sam Brunson’s suggestion in another post that the Church ought to advocate statutes in every state that would mandate reporting by members of the clergy.

    Fixing the problem of confessional secrecy in cases of child abuse is not some kind of impossible legal conundrum.

  85. Old Man, the “lawyers” may not, but the people really in charge of establishing church policy on the subject certainly should, and there is ample evidence that on many questions they actually do.

  86. Kristine says:

    And the fact is that we RARELY keep confessions strictly secret–all kinds of people end up knowing at least vaguely about them. If there’s a disciplinary council, then lots of people know details. We do not have a sacrament of confession; we have informal counseling sessions with unlicensed practitioners. Claiming there’s some protected religious exercise here is a big doctrinal stretch. The court can’t be in the business of adjudicating belief, but we should be embarrassed to make the claim.

  87. Kristine, yes. At first, I thought that a long discussion about confessional secrecy would be silly for the reasons you mention. Then I decided that one of the most likely explanations for the Church’s behavior in this scandal is that it has an unannounced policy of something like absolute confessional secrecy. That’s only one possible explanation, but it fits.

  88. I’m noticing in online discussions here and elsewhere that defenders of the church’s actions have a false understanding of the repentance process for people who commit sexual crimes, especially against minors.

    And it doesn’t just apply to this case: We’ve got examples going back *decades* of perpetrators who has assaulted minors and their Bishop decides that they’ve “repented” and called them into Primary/Scouting/YW/YM where, surprise surprise, they reoffend. Or even worse, encourage a wife to take her husband back because “he’s sorry and you wouldn’t want to break up a temple marriage, would you?” This has happened SO MANY TIMES in our church, and I’m just thinking of the instances that hit the news.

    jimbob, you mentioned that we can never know the true numbers, because what about all the molesters who confessed to their bishops in confidence and then never did it again? Sorry, we do know the numbers. We know because this DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. Saying this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what kind of person sexually assaults their child and what finally makes them stop. The only thing that stops them is being arrested and going to jail, and frankly, that doesn’t stop them as much as get them away from potential victims. Good grief, this is why a sex offender registry exists.

    There is the potential for rehabilitation for a sex offender but 1) the success rates aren’t that great and 2) the treatment is with a trained professional who specializes in this area. And even they admit they can be fooled. Molesters are master manipulators.

    I’ll restate what many others have already said. This is not an interesting intellectual “what if” exercise where people can just agree to disagree. If you haven’t had this impact your life personally, you need to shut up and listen to the people who have. The survivors. The activists. The advocates. The therapists. The professionals. (But not the lawyers. Not if this isn’t their area of expertise.)

    That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Our leaders assume their discernment is enough. It’s not. It’s past time to listen.

  89. If the purpose/goal of the church’s help line is to help/protect the victim, why does the help line not put the bishop in touch with therapists or social workers? The help line connects bishops with lawyers who represent the church.

  90. Angela C says:

    Aside from all the myriad ways bishops routinely blab about things said in private sessions with members, to the ward council, to their counselors, to their wives, if you really want to see what the church thinks about priest-penitent privilege, look no further than BYU. Any student or BYU employee who confesses anything to a bishop can and should expect that bishop to notify the university, their department head, or the admin group. BYU is incredibly open about the fact that you cannot confess anything to a bishop without directly jeopardizing your education or employment.

    Additionally, Mormon scripture (looking at you, D&C) refers to confessing to the congregation publicly rather than to a bishop privately. I mean, I’m glad we quit that because yikes, but that’s what our scriptures say.

  91. It’s remarkable how easy it is for some folks to pontificate about nuance. Or suggest this isn’t a simple issue. It’s simple for children suffering at the hands of predators: Clergy-perpetrator privilege is a death sentence for those children. Shame on you, jimbob. What the actual F***?!?

  92. Furthermore, if these perpetrators were actually penitent, they would be confessing to law enforcement and turning themselves in. The whole idea of privilege in these cases is a sham.

  93. > Furthermore, if these perpetrators were actually penitent, they would be confessing to law enforcement and turning themselves in. The whole idea of privilege in these cases is a sham.

    Yes. D&C 42 suggests the same with regard to all crimes punishable by law, and certainly with regard to serious ones.

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