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smac97

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About smac97

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    My name is Spencer Macdonald

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  1. I agree. There is nothing wrong with the bishop communicating with law enforcement through legal counsel. Everyone else in society is entitled to do so. But, in the case that Tacenda referenced, the outcome is clear. The Bishop learned of abuse from a witness - not from the abuser where priest-penitent privilege may apply. Yes. 50 years ago, our society - including the Church - was not handling allegations of abuse very well. We still have plenty of room for improvement. However, I think we need to be cautious about thinking that reporting allegations of abuse will fix everything. Police often don't investigate. Or if they do, sometimes the investigation is poor or perfunctory. And if they investigate well, there is often not much in the way of substantive evidence. And even then, they turn the matter over to the prosecutor, who then has all sorts of discretion as to what to prosecute or not, what the plead down, etc. In short, the legal system is not really the most effective means of combatting abuse. Individual rectitude, moral clarity, and stringent adherence to the Law of Chastity will be far more effective. Yep. But I think Mr. Vernon (Ms. Johnson's attorney) is looking for a way to shoehorn in some sort of grievance against the Church. The Church's current policies are actually pretty good, and effective. But acknowledging that would harsh Mr. Vernon's preferred The-Mormon-Church-protects-sexual-predators narrative. Thanks, -Smac
  2. Not sure how much that California law is going to help her. A entity can be sued if the entity "owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, if [the] wrongful or negligent act by that ... entity was a legal cause of the childhood sexual assault that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff." Or an entity can be sued "if an intentional act by that ...entity was a legal cause of the childhood sexual assault that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff." Perhaps @smac97 or @Kenngo1969 or some of the other more legal astute could explain what "legal cause of the" assault would mean. From my understanding the abuse was committed by a parent. Here is a preliminary assessment: 1. Kristy Johnson previously sued her father for his purported sexual abuse of her as a child. According to her, the abuse started when she was 6 (in 1969) and ended when she left home (which was apparently, but not definitely, when she left to serve a mission when she was 21, or around 1984). 2. Ms. Johnson is around 56 years old (she was 55 when this article was published in July 2018). 3. Ms. Johnson states that she reported the abuse to the police (in California) when she returned home from her mission in 1986. She also states that her father was never arrested as a result of this report, but that her father was excommunicated by the Church at this time (and was allowed to be re-baptized one year later). 4. Ms. Johnson filed a federal lawsuit against her father in June 2018, which includes extensive allegations of abuse (sexual and physical) by her father. In the suit, Ms. Johnson makes a number of additional allegations: "When Kristy was approximately six years old , her mother discovered these sexual crimes against her daughter and reported the ongoing sexual abuse to their local bishop. In accordance with church policy, this crime was handled as a matter of sin, only, and the police were not called. Following this disclosure to the local bishop, the family was moved to a new home and Johnson was given a new position in the CES at an LDS seminary building in Ogden, Utah. Johnson took Kristy to this building after school and, while there, sexually molested her on numerous occasions." "In approximately 1970, while living in Ogden, Utah, Kristy’s mother again reported the abuse to her local bishop, Bishop Ellis McAllister. This again was treated as an ecclesiastical matter, not a crime. Following this disclosure, the family was again relocated by Johnson’s employer, the Church, for so-called work reasons. They moved to Provo, Utah, where Johnson began working as a professor in the Religion Department of Brigham Young University." "While on the BYU campus, Johnson isolated Kristy in the confines of his office and sexually abused her on multiple occasions. These and other actions provoked another report of the abuse to the Church (and again these crimes went unreported to police). Following this disclosure in approximately 1973, the family was moved to California where Johnson began a new leadership position within the Church’s CES program." When Ms. Johnson returned from her mission (due to health issues), she and her siblings reported their father's abuse to the police. The police did not arrest the father, but he did move out of the house. Ms. Johnson states that she was reprimanded by her stake president "for involving the police in a 'church matter.'" 5. The suit was settled through mediation, and the suit itself was dismissed in June 2018. 6. The suit did not name the Church as a defendant. 7. Per this article, Ms. Johnson is now "preparing to sue" the Church "under a newly-passed California law designed to help adults who were sexually assaulted as children." The law is "California Assembly Bill 218," the text of which is available here. 8. The statute includes the following provision: The statute also allows for treble (triple) damages against a defendant "who is found to have covered up the sexual assault of a minor" if the plaintiff "proves {the abuse} was as the result of a cover up." However, this provision cannot be used "on or after the plaintiff’s 40th birthday," so I don't think it applies here, since Ms. Johnson is in her mid-50s. 9. I have only briefly skimmed the California bill/statute, but at first glance it does not seem like it can be easily applied here. Ms. Johnson apparently turned 18 (the "age of majority" in California) around 1981, or 38 years ago. Per the above statutory language, "the time for commencement of the action {that is, the deadline for filing the lawsuit} shall be within 22 years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within five years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual assault, whichever period expires later." So there are two potential "statute of limitations" deadlines here: Option A: 22 years after Ms. Johnson turned 18. This would have been around 2003, or sixteen years ago. So this one doesn't work. Option B: "Within five years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual assault, whichever period expires later." I assume this is the provision that Ms. Johnson hopes to use. I think that will be difficult. Essentially, she will need to claim that she suffered no discernible "psychological injury or illness ... caused by the sexual assault" late 2014 or later (which would be the start of 5-year time period allowed under the statute). Ms. Johnson states that she was extensively abused throughout her childhood, from age 6 to (possibly) age 21 (1984), and that at 22 or 23 (in 1986), she reported the abuse to the police. Her legal theory, then, will necessarily be that she did not (and reasonably could not) have discovered that the extensive and horrific treatment she describes caused her any "psychological illness or injury" until late 2014 or later (again, the start of 5-year time period allowed under the statute). In her lawsuit against her father (filed in June 2018), Ms. Johnson attributes extensive past and ongoing emotional/psychological injury to the purported childhood abuse by her father. It seems likely that such things did not start in late 2014. And given that she reported the purported abuse in 1986, it seems likely that the court would conclude that the time for her to have "discover{ed} or reasonably should have discovered" the link between these injuries and her childhood trauma has long since passed. 10. Notwithstanding the foregoing analysis, I anticipate that Mr. Vernon (Ms. Johnson's attorney) will file the suit anyway, since the date Ms. Johnson "discover{ed} or reasonably should have discovered" the link between these injuries and her childhood trauma is likely to require some factual inquiry. That could mean that the lawsuit could survive a motion to dismiss. That could also mean that the Church's attorneys would then need to delve into Ms. Johnson's personal life in order to determine the veracity of her claims, her mental health history, etc. I'm not sure either side would want to be involved in such an invasive and uncomfortable process. Moreover, perhaps there is some need for recompense given the purported failure of bishop(s) to properly address the abuse. In other words, this case seems like a good candidate for a mediated settlement (which is what happened with Ms. Johnson's suit against her father). Then again, maybe not. The California statute has the potential to invite mischief in the form of frivolous claims. Mr. Vernon is clearly trying to create a cottage industry, and apparently likes the very expansive scope of the California law. This article quotes Mr. Vernon as saying that "the California law will likely open several institutions like the Catholic Church, Mormon Church and Boy Scouts of America to many more lawsuits." And since such lawsuits will likely pertain mostly to decades-old allegations, they will be very difficult to rebut in the legal arena (this is, after all, why we have statutes of limitation). Again, the risk of invited mischief seems to be substantial. 11. Per this article, Mr. Vernon states that "he would like to see The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make changes to its protocol so bishops are instructed to call police directly when they become aware of sexual abuse." I think the Church's current policy is actually pretty good. That policy is for the bishop to call a helpline and speak with an attorney, who can then offer legal advice on the matter (including, of course, compliance with mandatory reporting laws in a particular jurisdiction). I've previously remarked on Ms. Johnson and Mr. Vernon here (pertaining to their remarks about her 2018 lawsuit against her father, which they used to foment ill will against, and to substantially misrepresent, the Church) : I hope Mr. Vernon is moderating his stance, which last year involved him encouraging Latter-day Saints to not disclose abuse to their bishops, and which this year has him expressing a preference that bishops be trained to call the police directly when they encounter allegations of abuse. Further prior remarks here: And here: And here (same link): Have you ever worked with victims of sexual abuse (particularly by family members)? As I see it three of the biggest impediments to them getting help are A) a feeling of helplessness, a lack of control over their lives, and B) profound confusion and despair at the abuse, and C) misplaced feelings of shame and guilt. Going to the police can come across as exacerbating these things. If the police get involved, then the abuser may end up getting arrested (which can be distressing when it's a family member, even to the victim). If the police get involved, then the "secret" is out, which may enhance the confusion / despair / shame / guilt (at least that's the fear the victim may have). If the police get involved, then the police (and/or DCFS) intrude into the home, ask very sensitive questions, and do so by the coercive power of government. The victim's sense of helplessness or lack of control might actually get worse (again, that's the fear the victim may have at the prospect of contacting the police). And so it goes. But you know what? The police and DCFS still need to be involved. That is the decision our society has made, and I think it's a necessary one. So my point is that sometimes the victim may not want to call the police (because of the above concerns), which is why a disclosure to the bishop becomes so valuable. Bishops, after all, are generally good and decent men, and they have an obligation to monitor the welfare of their flock, and in most jurisdictions they have a legal obligation to report most allegations of abuse. The Church, recognizing this, has spent considerable time and effort to create a helpline for bishops, a helpline that works (see above). Bishops are not perfect, but they are clearly a net benefit in terms of addressing allegations of abuse. And yet we have people likes of Craig Vernon, who goes out of his way to distort and hide what the Church has been doing about this issue, who is so vested in his opposition to the LDS Church (and, I think, his financial incentives stemming from his various lawsuits against the Church) that he is publicly trying to make LDS kids terrified and suspicious and distrustful of their church and their church leaders. It's a pretty disgusting display. Again, I hope Mr. Vernon is moderating his stance. 12. Turning from the dispassionate legal analysis above, I am deeply saddened and upset that Ms. Johnson appears to have been abused by her own father, and that societal safeguards (her mother, local bishops, law enforcement, etc.) did not stop the abuse or timely act on the allegations. I hope she gets the help she needs. I hope she finds peace. Thanks, -Smac
  3. Fair enough. My concern is that "President O'Rourke" would be more expansive in his interpretation of religious groups "oppos{ing} same-sex marriage." Thanks, -Smac
  4. Okay. Meanwhile, I am concerned that the Church is in the crosshairs of people like Mr. O'Rourke. Huh? How is "talking" a violation of the IRS code? Again, how? If they use violence or unlawful means, then I would understand your point. But what about using lawful means to oppose same-sex marriage and variated issues extrapolated therefrom (the Masterpiece Cakeshop case comes to mind)? Thanks, -Smac
  5. And the First Amendment is still enforced for religious freedom so why are you worried about it going away? "Let the eye of vigilance never be closed." -- Thomas Jefferson "No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation." -- Douglas MacArthur "Three of greatest failings, want of sense, of courage, or of vigilance." -- Thucydides "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." -- Desmond Tutu Not sure what you mean here. No, I would not deny anyone their constitutional rights. I'm more unsettled then "surprised" or "mystified." No, I do not expect such things. Not from the president. Not under the color of law. So the "consequence" of religious groups exercising their constitutional rights is . . . punishment. By by government. Viewpoint discrimination Violation of the First Amendment. Hence my being "unsettled." I'm concerned about religious liberty generally, not just as it applies to our Church. I don't know what this means. And to be frank, I am concerned that "President O'Rourke" would not make the distinction you are making here. Thanks, -Smac
  6. Really? Who are these "people?" And do they represent these "religious organizations," such that the latter can/should be legally punished for the actions for the former? Also, what are these people doing to "try to have some rights taken away from people who want to marry people of the same sex?" Are the actions of these people illegal? If not, then why would "President O"Rourke" threaten to revoke tax exemptions of religious groups because of the legal conduct of their members? Huh? What IRS code are you referencing here? What funds? You are getting pretty far afield from what Mr. O'Rourke said. Let's go to the tape: So what is presently going on? What are "religious insitutions, like colleges, churches, charities" doing, such that their tax exemptions are at risk of being denied/revoked? Well, yes. But Mr. O'Rourke was not asked "Do you think religious institutions, like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they go beyond the limits imposed on tax-exempt organizations?" He was, instead, asked "Do you think religious institutions, like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?" Again, given Mr. O'Rourke's infamous and recent declaration of his intention to violate the Second Amendment ("Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47..."), I think it's reasonable to be concerned about him being similarly indifferent (or even hostile) to the First Amendment. Thanks, -Smac
  7. ... but only when their opposition to same-sex marriage "denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us". What does that mean? Seems like there it a lot of wiggle room in that. Lots of subjectivity. So what actions by a religious group would "President "O'Rourke" construe as "den{ying} the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us?" We don't know. From ABC News: Again, given Mr. O'Rourke's infamous and recent declaration of his intention to violate the Second Amendment ("Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47..."), I think it's reasonable to be concerned about him being similarly indifferent (or even hostile) to the First Amendment. I also don't think we should blithely ignore such an obvious shot across the bow. The status quo is that same-sex marriage is legal. And yet Mr. O'Rourke is still threatening the tax exemptions of religious groups. Now why is that? What are they doing that Mr. O'Rourke construes as "den{ying} the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us?" Thanks, -Smac
  8. This thread is about Mr. O'Rourke's threat to punish religious groups who "oppose same-sex marriage." Thanks, -Smac
  9. Why? We accepted polygamy for a long, long time. I thought it would be obvious, but here goes: But the normalization of what-used-to-be-extreme positions regarding and hostile to religious liberty remains unsettling. Thanks, -Smac
  10. One might conclude that faith leaders who have morphed into political lobbyists, cultural warriors and partisan cheerleaders have neglected their core role. To the extent younger generations are more progressive politically, they may now look upon religious sects as akin to political parties or political action committees, with which they choose not to affiliate. I just searched back through this thread for your Gallup link but was unsuccessful. Would you mind posting it again? Huh. It turns out that "this part of their [Gallup's] report" is not part of the report, but is instead part of an opinion piece written by The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin. Thanks, -Smac
  11. But the normalization of what-used-to-be-extreme positions remains unsettling. Thanks, -Smac
  12. Quick Litigation Update: The Church has requested additional time and additional length for the reply brief. The reply brief is now due November 5. Thanks, -Smac
  13. CFR has been met by Sunstoned above. Yes. Apparently the actual source is on page 379 of D. Michael Quinn's "Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example." I tried to look up the page online, but it's not available. I'll try to get to the library and sort it out. How so? Thanks, -Smac
  14. Kevin Christensen frequently makes this very argument. In this paper I point out the serious deficiencies with the MesoAmerican model and the shoddy scholarship that supports it, scholarship that is not likely to be even remotely scientific. The geography of The Book of Mormon doesn't seem to be a "scientific" issue. It's more a matter of history / geography (as evidenced by, for example, your paper, which is chockablock full of citations to historical resources, but very little "scientific" literature). Nor do I. I'm not sure why you would think I am attempting any such jusitification. I'm not sure that's a fair characterization. Moreover, there are many Latter-day Saint scholars who have written on this topic. I don't think "we seek for truth wherever we may find it" is a tautology. Again, I agree. Again, I'm not sure why you would think I am attempting any such jusitification. I'm not sure the Church's position on this issue can be fairly characterized as "hostile." See here: "Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken" ≠ "official church hostility to continued study of the Book of Mormon's geography." I don't think the Church wants to commit itself to a position on the specifics of BOM geography because we presently lack sufficient light and knowledge to confirm any particular theory, and because the Church wants us to focus on the spiritual content of the book. Which may just as well be attributable to the apparently successful commercialized efforts of Bro. Meldrum to advance his theory. For example, some years ago my wife bought me one of Meldrum's books. She later asked me if I liked it, and I explained to her that I had read parts of it, but that I found much of Meldrum's theorizing to be problematic. She was a little surprised. She said she had bought it for me not because she had reviewed the author, but because the cover was pretty and she thought (correctly) that I would be interested in the subject matter. I think most members of the Church are fairly indifferent to the particulars as to the location of the BOM events. Of those who have given the matter substantial thought and study, I would say most subscribe to a generalized Mesoamerican setting. I think the hemispheric model is not held by many, and Meldrum's theories do not seem to be holding much sway, either. I said previously: "I struggle with the Heartland Model because A) its advocates have generally failed to present much in the way of well-reasoned evidence and argument, and B) they instead resort to ad hominem nastiness (such as is very much on display in your post) to critique the Mesoamerican-based models of BOM geography." Accusations like "half-truths and lies to deceive the Saints" do not help advance the discussion. Thanks, -Smac
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