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Are we doing enough? Major story outlining abuse with the Southern Baptists

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5 minutes ago, Calm said:

This was known at the time of the abuse, this is not a new issue. 

Meaning the first presidency knew about it, and still hired him to make the films released in 2013?

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Just now, SouthernMo said:

Meaning the first presidency knew about it, and still hired him to make the films released in 2013?

I am not yet clear on details, but quite possibly.

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1 minute ago, bsjkki said:

We don't know if David's parents turned down counseling for their son. They did not tell David they talked to the police. We don't know what the parents did here. He may not know the whole story. 

I'm darn sure David as an adult has spoken with his parents and asked if any counseling was offered. I'll do my darndest to ask him, somehow, if it's possible, or why else would David be so adamant about counseling not being offered?

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Just now, Tacenda said:

I'm darn sure David as an adult has spoken with his parents and asked if any counseling was offered. I'll do my darndest to ask him, somehow, if it's possible, or why else would David be so adamant about counseling not being offered?

We don't know that and there are no quotes from his parents. There are things I have never shared with my parent and their are things some parents don't want to talk about. We really don't know what we don't know. I think a good training course on these topics would be great to have at church. Many people, especially in the nineties, did not think about "counseling" the same way we do now. 

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27 minutes ago, bsjkki said:

The way it was put to my parents was that it was appropriate to let the Church handle it," said "David," who also indicated Van Wagenen underwent a disciplinary council for the alleged abuse. 

Apparently the parents went to a friend, who according to David, told them this.  The stake president at the time was Harold Brown, LDS Social Services director, he was not the one to promote that idea, just to be clear.

One dissection of the case, I haven't been able to confirm denials from Van Wagonen yet as haven't listened to the recording.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christopherdcunningham/2019/02/how-the-church-handles-sexual-abuse/

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3 minutes ago, Calm said:

I am not yet clear on details, but quite possibly.

There are differences in David's account and the police report. I believe David in this instance. We don't know how honest this man was with his church leaders but I would still think his membership record was flagged due to the church discipline due to child abuse. I hope so. If you can't teach nursery, I would not think directing the temple films should happen. 

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22 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I'm darn sure David as an adult has spoken with his parents and asked if any counseling was offered. I'll do my darndest to ask him, somehow, if it's possible, or why else would David be so adamant about counseling not being offered?

And yet nothing was phrased in the reports I read that indicated this.  What I read reported no current discussion or input from his parents.  

The police report states they contacted his parents, but David states he was not aware this happened.  Don't you think if there was ongoing discussion, he likely would have found out about that at least?

The phrasing of the police report "did not want to talk about what happened" might indicate the parents' position with everyone, including David, unfortunately.

David also reported it happening when he was 10 years old while the police report indicates he was 13, so he may have gotten other details wrong as well.

Edited by Calm

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16 minutes ago, bsjkki said:

There are differences in David's account and the police report. I believe David in this instance. We don't know how honest this man was with his church leaders but I would still think his membership record was flagged due to the church discipline due to child abuse. I hope so. If you can't teach nursery, I would not think directing the temple films should happen. 

Including his report he was ten and the police was 13?  If he got that wrong, the possibility exists he got other stuff wrong.  It makes no difference to me whether on top or under clothes or how long the contact was, btw.  I am not trying to drop the offense into something minor.  That there was any intentional contact is all that matters to me and Van Wagonen confessed to that.  However, legally it makes a difference apparently, it is hard to tell since the dad limited what they could do, the police could only go by what VW stated happened.  And we apparently can't get access to the police recording for specific comments since he wasn't charged.

I don't think I am going to research this for a couple of days.  So I may comment on it later after I read the police reports and transcript of the recording of David with VW themselves

Edited by Calm

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5 minutes ago, Calm said:

Apparently the parents went to a friend, who according to David, told them this.  The stake president at the time was Harold Brown, LDS Social Services director, he was not the one to promote that idea, just to be clear.

One dissection of the case, I haven't been able to confirm denials from Van Wagonen yet as haven't listened to the recording.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christopherdcunningham/2019/02/how-the-church-handles-sexual-abuse/

I do like this point this article brings out. 

"From David’s statements, it appears his parents decided unilaterally to not pursue the matter and sweep it under the rug in an ill-advised attempt to “protect” him. Years later that has clearly not worked. The point David tried to make, before his message was hijacked, was that he wished there was more support from the church at the time it happened.

I agree.

Fortunately, the Church agrees too.

In the years since, in addition to continuing to turn perpetrators into law enforcement, the Church has consistently provided necessary counseling to survivors. While it is tragic those resources were not made available to David at the time, I suspect they are available to him now if they would be useful in his healing."

The church has made great efforts to improve their handling of abuse cases and they are doing better. The point of the OP was not to bash the church, but ask is there more we can do. These cases have happened in the past and mistakes were made. The church is correcting policies and procedures and I think it would be wise to train parents and ward members what research has shown about helping to prevent abuse and how to help those who are victims. 

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21 minutes ago, Calm said:

I think you do need to post the documents to be clear on what you mean. If you mean those who are sexually attracted to children do not lose this attraction, this is likely true. If you mean such people are likely to become predators, I would like to see stats on that.

" Pedophilia" is attraction to children.  Someone attracted to children doesn't necessarily commit acts.  Pedophilia is widely understood to be as permanent a preference as heterosexuality or homosexuality.  

I'll go look for documents to support that one cannot change their attraction to children I suppose.  Sigh- I'm too lazy really to look up what feels like such a widely accepted understanding but OK.  

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44 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I am so glad that the church told him to go to the authorities, but no, you're wrong about David getting help with some counseling, he says it over and over in the tape that none was offered. 

I never said he got help with counseling, I said we can't know if it was offered and refused by the parents/father (and given the father said "don't want to talk about it" to the cops, I think there is a high probability he at least was inclined to ignore it as something that would go away, be forgotten, time would heal better than if a 'big deal' was made of it).

The parents may have told church leaders they were not allowed to talk to their son about it.  I assume you would want Church leaders to respect that, right?

Edited by Calm

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21 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

" Pedophilia" is attraction to children.  Someone attracted to children doesn't necessarily commit acts.  Pedophilia is widely understood to be as permanent a preference as heterosexuality or homosexuality.  

I'll go look for documents to support that one cannot change their attraction to children I suppose.  Sigh- I'm too lazy really to look up what feels like such a widely accepted understanding but OK.  

No, I don't need documents on changes to pedophilia if attraction was the limit of your comment.

Many people seem to have the view that once a child predator, always a child predator...that is one of the many inaccuracies commonly believed in regards to this subject from the research I have seen.

A lot of people also use "pedophile" as equivalent to "child predator", which it is not.  I think such usage is dangerous because the stigma attached to pedophilia by such attitudes creates an environment where pedophiles do not seek out help to control their acttraction or behaviour out of fear of being seen as or labeled a child predator.  Therefore when the discussion is about pedophile and/or child abuse, I try to make sure terms used are accurate as I believe one of the best ways to help our community, especially children, is to encourage those who have an attraction to children to get counseling on how to deal with it.

Edited by Calm
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1 minute ago, Calm said:

No, I don't need documents on changes to pedophilia if that was the limit of your comment.

Many people seem to have the view that once a child predator, always a child predator...that is not accurate according to the research I have seen.

A lot of things put people in the category of child molester. If an 19 year old has sex with his or her 17 year old partner in the US then he or she is a sex offender, but "not necessarily" a pedophile.  

If you have a person who has fondled a child sexually, once or more than once, ideally they should be first prosecuted - and then, church disciplined, and then not in any position to hurt another child.  Since we can't control for all things, because situations present themselves at church that leaves children vulnerable - ideally, we would teach our kids to protect themselves - and since we know that kids can be taught but will still be manipulated by intent perps, we need to understand that we need to trust to only a certain point and beyond that know that just because people are members of the same church as us they don't necessarily think the same way, believe the same way, or act the same way.

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9 minutes ago, Calm said:

No, I don't need documents on changes to pedophilia if attraction was the limit of your comment.

Many people seem to have the view that once a child predator, always a child predator...that is one of the many inaccuracies commonly believed in regards to this subject from the research I have seen.

A lot of people also use "pedophile" as equivalent to "child predator", which it is not.  I think such usage is dangerous because the stigma attached to pedophilia by such attitudes creates an environment where pedophiles do not seek out help to control their behaviours out of fear of being seen as or labeled a child predator.  Therefore when the discussion is about pedophile and/or child abuse, I try to make sure terms used are accurate as I believe one of the best ways to help our community, especially children, is to encourage those who have an attraction to children to get counseling on how to deal with it.

I think I've used the terms consistent with your terminology.

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38 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

A lot of things put people in the category of child molester. If an 19 year old has sex with his or her 17 year old partner in the US then he or she is a sex offender, but "not necessarily" a pedophile.  

If you have a person who has fondled a child sexually, once or more than once, ideally they should be first prosecuted - and then, church disciplined, and then not in any position to hurt another child.  Since we can't control for all things, because situations present themselves at church that leaves children vulnerable - ideally, we would teach our kids to protect themselves - and since we know that kids can be taught but will still be manipulated by intent perps, we need to understand that we need to trust to only a certain point and beyond that know that just because people are members of the same church as us they don't necessarily think the same way, believe the same way, or act the same way.

I agree.

As far as I can tell from the career description, Van Wagonen was not placed in any position at church or through BYU where he interacted with minors himself.  As far as Excel Entertainment, if there is no required church membership requirement, I am not sure how they would know about his history given no charges were made and a background check by Mormonleaks yielded only traffic violations, iirc.

As far as not being able to work with the Church in any fashion ever again, I am of two minds as emotionally I want predators out.  But without accepting that repentance can work and being an example of it in the Church for even major sins, how can we motivate each other to repent?  As long as reasonable safety measures are undertaken that fit reasonable even if debatable accusations as well as confessions, I probably lean towards allowing church callings, etc. to be held (not ones that give them direct access to those similar to their victim(s)).

Otoh, there is a definite ick factor with his involvement with the temple films and if he also confessed now to a number of extramarital affairs, it moves way beyond "problematic" for me.  But if he was not honest with his church leadership, that is between him and God imo.

Edited by Calm

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I don’t think an offender should be disallowed callings “ever again”. But I don’t think they should ever be in primary scouts youth or camp callings. 

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2 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

Background checks for adults working with kids would be ideal .

While ideal, less helpful than one might expect.

repeating a post as it includes relevant info to this, while thirdhand I believe the transmission of info was through reliable sources:

Quote

A few months ago I attended a presentation by the attorney who handles sex abuseissues for the church. I was surprised how candid he was (lawyers are not allowed to disclose any information concerning or acquired in the representation of a client that the client does not want disclosed). He did start by saying that he would not comment on ongoing or recent cases.

He talked a lot about the helpline and how the line has three priorities for all calls, in descending order: 1. Follow the law; 2.Don't create evidentiary issues (like stepping over a prosecutor's case); and 3. Encourage bishops to report even where the law does not require it. The hotline staffers will tell bishops to say things like "now you don't have any objection if I report this" rather than "you don't want me to report this, do you?" to encourage reporting.

He said that the church's policy is to always believe the victim and take what they say at face value, unless they have actual evidence (not just a hunch) that something the victim is saying is not correct. And he added that in his experience, the victims are almost always telling the truth. Though, he hinted that that may not hold so much where people are suing the church (I suspect his experience litigating against some of these people may have jaded him a bit). He also said that the church requires that offenders must face legal system as part of the repentance process.

He talked about how fallible background checks are and said of all the cases of a church leader abusing someone that he was aware of, only one would have been caught by a background check. And he is only aware one LDS scout leader applicant who ever failed their background check for abuse (indicating that that number is way too low).

He argued that the church's record annotation system is an important safeguardto try to make up for this. He said that when he was fairly new to representing the church, he had his secretary pull 50 random sex offenders from the Utah registry, he cross-checked those names with membership records and found that 39 were members (as he expected, the proportion of LDS members in Utah at the time). He then checked how many of those 39 had annotations on their records and it was only 13. So he instituted a process where they comb sex offender registries in all states and automatically annotate all member records they find. He said that there are actually way more annotations than people on registries because the church has low standards of evidence and will annotate records in cases where there was not enough evidence for prosecutors to get a conviction.

The church computer system will not let you input someone with an annotated record into a calling where they work with children (since bishops don't always check before extending callings). It takes very very high church approval to get an annotation removed and you are in essence going to have to prove complete innocence/mistaken identity to get the annotation removed (i.e. I've repented and won't do this again is insufficient to allow the person to again work with children).

He also expressed the opinion that the sustaining process in sacrament meeting is another important safeguard because it leverages the knowledge of the community and allows anyone who might know something to come forward.

The person sharing this info also pointed out the advantage of having both therapists and lawyers involved in the hotline because the lawyers will know the law and will report as required, safeguarding the legal rights of the victim (if they don't, they not only put the Church at risk, they risk their own freedom for breaking the law).

The above are current procedures and wouldn't have been in place in 93 as that was before the hotline.

Edited by Calm

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1 hour ago, bsjkki said:

I do like this point this article brings out. 

"From David’s statements, it appears his parents decided unilaterally to not pursue the matter and sweep it under the rug in an ill-advised attempt to “protect” him. Years later that has clearly not worked. The point David tried to make, before his message was hijacked, was that he wished there was more support from the church at the time it happened.

I agree.

Fortunately, the Church agrees too.

In the years since, in addition to continuing to turn perpetrators into law enforcement, the Church has consistently provided necessary counseling to survivors. While it is tragic those resources were not made available to David at the time, I suspect they are available to him now if they would be useful in his healing."

The church has made great efforts to improve their handling of abuse cases and they are doing better. The point of the OP was not to bash the church, but ask is there more we can do. These cases have happened in the past and mistakes were made. The church is correcting policies and procedures and I think it would be wise to train parents and ward members what research has shown about helping to prevent abuse and how to help those who are victims. 

In the article here, it states that David's parents were ill advised to sweep it under the rug. It was hinted elsewhere, now can't remember, that the parents were told this by their bishop, I believe. Which IMO, is par for the course back in the day.

Edited by Tacenda

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35 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

It was hinted elsewhere, now can't remember, that the parents were told this by their bishop, I believe.

It wasn't hinted at, it was stated as a fact (David states that they were "encouraged to let the church handle the situation" by the mutual friend the parents reported the abuse to, who was a bishop in a nearby ward) on Mormonleaks.

However, we don't know the source for this.  If David and he was not there (as seems likely the way it was phrased), it is his parents who are telling him this...and the father at least has shown his own inclination to avoid talking about the abuse in the contact with the police.  It may have been his father's rationalization about why he and their family could ignore it once reported...someone else, in this case the Church, would take care of it for him/them.

That the parents went to a friend who was a bishop who had no authority in the matter, but just knew those who did rather than their own bishop or stake president indicates to me a desire to keep the abuse as secret as possible while still feeling like they were doing something about it.  That the friend was also a friend of Van Wagonen may indicate the parents were hoping to keep it between the four of them, VW, the mutual friend as a mediator/counselor/ and David's parents, but the friend decided to involve the stake pres.  We can't know at this time what happened.  Maybe the friend encouraged letting the Church handle it because the parents objected to involving the SP thinking it would be better if only he knew, and the friend was reassuring them that telling the stake pres wouldn't lead to the abuse becoming gossip, etc., that church leaders would hold it as confidential and that got interpreted by his parents as letting the church handle things by themselves.

We also know the stake pres, Harold Brown, most likely did not have that attitude as Van Wagonen states he was encouraged by Brown to turn himself in, which he did....so keeping in house was not "par for the course" in 93.

Edited by Calm

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Just a point of clarification from a life-long member of Southern Baptist churches.  The Southern Baptist Convention is not a body devised to oversee churches, their programs, or their staff.  Every church that affiliates with the SBC is autonomous in how they operate, who they hire, what they preach.  There are tenets of faith and contributions to missions that keep a church affiliated with the SBC, but each church makes their own bylaws, develops their own budgets, and focuses their ministries on the needs they identify.  BTW, my particular church conducts background checks on all hires and people who work with kids (people like me).  

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8 minutes ago, Gervin said:

Just a point of clarification from a life-long member of Southern Baptist churches.  The Southern Baptist Convention is not a body devised to oversee churches, their programs, or their staff.  Every church that affiliates with the SBC is autonomous in how they operate, who they hire, what they preach.  There are tenets of faith and contributions to missions that keep a church affiliated with the SBC, but each church makes their own bylaws, develops their own budgets, and focuses their ministries on the needs they identify.  BTW, my particular church conducts background checks on all hires and people who work with kids (people like me).  

This autonomy makes it more difficult to track abusers across congregations. I am happy that your congregation conducts background checks. They are limited to “official” records. As Calm quoted, they are limited.

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18 hours ago, SouthernMo said:

Meaning the first presidency knew about it, and still hired him to make the films released in 2013?

I'm just now reading this story.  Were his extramarital affairs also known by church leaders when they called him to direct the recent temple movies?  I'm amazed this happened (even if they just knew about the confessed child abuse) knowing the sacred nature surrounding the filming of those movies.

Here's a quote:

Quote

 

In the audio posted above, Van Wagenen talks about a "double life" he lived for decades.

"When asked if he is a pedophile, Van Wagenen denies that label, but admits to multiple extramarital affairs with both men and women," McKnight says in the TTF story. "He also admits to one single instance of sex abuse perpetrated on a minor. That minor was David."

 

Does anyone know a specific timeline for these "extramarital affairs with both men and women" and how much his church leaders were aware of?  Maybe he never confessed those, but only the child abuse was known....

ETA:

Here's a link to the story (and I think the recording):

https://kutv.com/news/local/lds-temple-videos-director-sundance-co-founder-admits-to-child-molestation-says-website

Edited by ALarson

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45 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I'm just now reading this story.  Were his extramarital affairs also known by church leaders when they called him to direct the recent temple movies?  I'm amazed this happened (even if they just knew about the confessed child abuse) knowing the sacred nature surrounding the filming of those movies.

Here's a quote:

Does anyone know a specific timeline for these "extramarital affairs with both men and women" and how much his church leaders were aware of?  Maybe he never confessed those, but only the child abuse was known....

ETA:

Here's a link to the story (and I think the recording):

https://kutv.com/news/local/lds-temple-videos-director-sundance-co-founder-admits-to-child-molestation-says-website

If you listen to the recording, or have the time, he does mention his going through the repentance process of these affairs and the timeline I believe, so definitely they knew before hiring him to film.

But just like the story of the man who abducted Jan Broberg Felt twice as a child, and had an affair with her mother and had her father do a sexual act on him, he was still able to be a temple worker later in life. It blows my mind that after knowing of someone that evil, the church allows them to do what they do. The guy held other callings that were shocking as well. 

Edited by Tacenda

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

If you listen to the recording, or have the time, he does mention his going through the repentance process of these affairs and the timeline I believe, so definitely they knew before hiring him to film.

But just like the story of the man who abducted Jan Broberg Felt twice as a child, and had an affair with her mother and had her father do a sexual act on him, he was still able to be a temple worker later in life. It blows my mind that after knowing of someone that evil, the church allows them to do what they do. The guy held other callings that were shocking as well. 

I"m not familiar with that one (but I'll try to find more info on it).

If true, it's disturbing (just as the other case being discussed is).

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