A recent article published by the Associated Press reports on how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its policy towards sexual abuse within the church does little to stop abuse and protect victims. Rather than helping those in need, this policy has lead to a system that is misused by church leaders in order to prevent the truth from being exposed. The article reveals that rather than report abuse accusations to law enforcement, the Mormon church keeps accusations within a closed loop system in order to protect the church’s reputation and to shield the church from potentially expensive lawsuits.
An integral part of the Mormon church’s policy includes a help line that refers any reports of abuse that may be a risk to the church to a Salt Lake City law firm. According to a Bishop quoted in the article, when he followed church policy and reported that a member of his ward was sexually assaulting his 5-year-old daughter he called the abuse to the help line. The attorneys on the line informed the Bishop that the church is exempt from reporting child abuse because of Utah law, due to what they specifically refer to as clergy-penitent privilege. In reality, more than 20 states require clergy, physicians, nurses, or anyone caring for a child who reasonably believes a child has been abused to report the information to local police or the state’s Department of Child Safety.
The AP obtained nearly 12,000 pages of sealed records from an unrelated child sex abuse lawsuit in West Virginia against the Mormon church. The sealed records illustrates a two practices used by the church to keep all help line calls confidential. First, in order to keep help line calls confidential, records of the calls are destroyed on a daily basis. Second, any call referred to church attorneys are covered by attorney-client privilege. This keeps these calls our of reach for both prosecutors and the abuse victim’s lawyers. It is also important to note that when the church set up the help line in 1995, it operated under the Office of Risk Management, not the Department of Family Services.
It is clear from this article that the only thing that can keep children within the Mormon church safe is to change the policy regarding abuse within the church. The team at Estey & Bomberger has a long record of helping survivors of sexual abuse achieve the justice they deserve. We are more than just another law firm, we are advocates for the rights of survivors of sexual abuse. We do more than just stand up for the rights of victims, we provide the resources necessary to help survivors of sexual abuse work through their trauma. We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened, but we do everything we can to help those in need.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse in the Mormon church, we believe you. We will stand by your side every step of the way so that you can heal. We have certified victim advocates in house and we are a trauma informed firm. Our team understands the importance of confidentiality in such cases, and can file any legal documents anonymously on your behalf. We can also provide counseling services. We are here to support you and offer 100% free, no obligation, confidential consultations where we can answer any questions you may have. This allows you to make an informed decision before moving forward with your case. There is never a fee unless we win, not a single penny.
Our record setting verdicts and settlements coupled with our flawless record for protecting victims of sexual abuse has earned us a national reputation. Our work has also led to changes within major organizations in order to better protect innocent children from abuse. By standing up to the Mormon church and its flawed policy towards abuse, we can work with you to make the changes necessary to expose abuse within the church. By holding those who harm children accountable for their actions, we can protect those in the future from suffering similar trauma.