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Mormon Bishop Faces Charges


sjdawg

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He should have followed procedure. The Bishop's handbook is clear that these things are to be reported to the proper authority.

Trotter said. “Bishops are instructed on how to report abuse and to follow applicable law.” From what I recall, Bishops and such are to call a hotline number and get legal advice on what they are to do. "What" they are to do is determined by local law which is different from state to state. Some states do not require clergy to report.

ARS 13-3620 A member of the clergy, ... who has received a confidential communication or a confession in that person's role as a member of the clergy, ... may withhold reporting of the communication or confession if the member of the clergy, ... determines that it is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion. I see nothing within the concepts of the LDS Church that determines that the continuation of child abuse and the ongoing subjection of a child to sexual assault is "reasonable and necessary". I believe that if the Church was more serious about "zero tolerance" for child abuse, then the Church would not tolerate child abuse under guise of "exemptions" from mandatory reporting of child abuse.

here is the law from Utah

62A-4a-403. Reporting requirements

(3) (a) When a clergyman or priest receives information about abuse or neglect from any source other than confession of the perpetrator, the clergyman or priest is required to give notification on the basis of that information even though the clergyman or priest may have also received a report of abuse or neglect from the confession of the perpetrator.

so it would appear on the face of it the Bishop in question violated Utah law.

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I believe that if the Church was more serious about "zero tolerance" for child abuse, then the Church would not tolerate child abuse under guise of "exemptions" from mandatory reporting of child abuse.

What's the legal definition of child abuse and sexual assault applicable to this case? I'm all for zero tolerance of certain things, but I do believe as a society, we get carried away with zero tolerance and put away too many people who are not actual criminals. Do we know what it is the boy is accused of doing and does it warrant a criminal record?

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This is unfortunate.

We don't know if his intent was to protect the girl or the boy, most likely if he is a decent man, it was probably to protect both, but the Church is clear in this case that it needs to follow the local law, there's just too much at stake (and I am not talking about legal liability, but potential misreading and mistreatment of the situation by those not trained to handle such things). It is possible that during the interview that the Bishop understood (rightly or wrongly) the girl to be reluctant or fearful herself and thought it best for her own peace of mind to handle it 'lowkey' or that he interpreted (rightly or wrongly) the sexual assault as not an assault except in legal terminology and thus didn't want it to be taken to the level that he thought reporting it to the police would do so, with its longterm results for both the victim and the aggressor. It is hard to tell what was actually involved since the term "sexual assault" is applied to a wide range of behaviours these days including what amounts to consensual sex, but is defined as rape when the age difference is sufficient. I think it would be better for all concerned and lead to more effective and less reluctant action if the less aggressive forms of inappropriate sexual relations were separated out not only in terms of legal consequences (as they are now), but also in terms of legal terms. I am not making excuse for the Bishop as I believe he should have reported it, I just know from experience there are at times situations that are so borderline---'when the cure is worse than the disease'---that it becomes very difficult to know what the right thing to do is even when one is completely focused on the needs of the most vulnerable individual involved. (and yes, I deem it possible that the Bishop was just being a total domineering jerk and if so, he should be removed from his calling in my opinion).

I have a young friend who is on the books as a sex offender because he had sex with a 15 year old girl when he was 19 when they were drunk. It was most definitely wrong and stupid and I have no issue with his punishment of community service, but I do have concerns about the injustice of that label being hung around his neck. Since the girl still wanted to continue the relationship after he cut it off (and even after he was arrested and sentenced) when he realized it was inappropriate and he was cleaning up his act and it was only her parent who pushed for the charges to be brought, even to the point of applying pressure to her daughter.....even though it was that mother herself who gave them with the alcohol, drank it with them and quite possibly knew of the sexual nature of the relationship as they apparently just went into the girl's room and didn't act to stop it or even apparently disapproved of it until the relationship was over...it seems more about the mother feeling my young friend owed her daughter something and this was the only avenue of recourse available.

Anyway, I am not 'out for justice' for my young friend, he is intelligent enough, he knew better and one has to live with the consequences of one's choices and besides being on the sex offenders list they were not excessive to my view. I just think that for all concerned in these sort of situations (as opposed to the more aggressive and even violent ones) differentiating levels by clear terminology would help with not only encouraging individuals to report lesser offences, but as things now stand it can lead to the possibility that serious accusations will be diminished in the public mind because they are aware of the current overlap.

I also know of a case where a mentally and physically disabled young man (mental age probably around 7 or 8, restricted to a wheelchair) fondled a young woman at church who was extremely traumatized by the experience, understandably so. He had not a clue that it was wrong and something she would not enjoy experience as he had been taught this behaviour himself when he was in an group home for mentally and physically disabled individuals (it's tragic but such abuse is rampant among such institutions from what reports I've seen). Her parents wanted charges brought and the young man barred from attending church or other locations where he would be in contact with young women. Charges were not brought because the investigators deemed him incompetent to stand trial. The Bishop's solution was to impose a required distance between the young man and the youth of the Church as much as physically possible (hard to set up complete controls in such a setting while maintaining a welcoming environment for all concerned so as to prevent, for example, a young child dashing down the hall without warning) as well as providing the young man with constant supervision from the moment he was delivered by the handibus at the church door to the time he got back on the bus. This was completely satisfying to the legal authorities, I do not know the opinion of her parents though, I doubt the girl would have been happy though as any sight of him would have been traumatic. However, it would have been tragic to take the young man away from one of the few places he felt like he belonged, having grown up in the ward and being treated as part of the family by most members, especially once his older parents could no longer take care of him, thus giving him less opportunities for the social warmth and connection that even disabled individuals need to survive.

Again, not trying to make excuses here for anyone, just pointing out that sometimes the situations are not cut and dried and for someone whose foremost concern is for the well being of those most vulnerable, I can understand why they might choose to put the law aside thinking that would be a greater benefit to the victim than requiring them to deal with it.

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This is why the Church has a hotline to advise Bishops on the proper course of action in their local legal environment.

My daughters favorite English teacher is now sitting in jail in Georgia for not reporting a fellow teacher's affair with a minor student.

I don't know how obvious or difficult the call was not knowing the details of the reported assault.

If the boy is proven to be innocent of assault charges will that change the judgement handed down to the Bishop?

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If the boy is proven to be innocent of assault charges will that change the judgement handed down to the Bishop?

I wouldn't think so. I would think the only possibility of changing the judgment would be to demonstrate that the girl did not represent it as a sexual assault. As soon as she made that claim, he would have been required to report it, I believe, even if he knew for certain the claim was false (whether that meant the girl was lying or mistaken).

But I am not a lawyer and the law doesn't always equate with 'common sense' or logic.

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If the boy is proven to be innocent of assault charges will that change the judgement handed down to the Bishop?

I agree with calmoriah on this. If what the girl described was not child abuse or whatever the Bishop is being charged with, then that would be a defense for the Bishop.

Even if the girl lied there is still a duty to report, as most reporting is based on "reason to believe" or something to that affect. So the boy being innocent would not negate the duty to report - the only situation I could think of would be the Bishop had observed every action of the boy and girl during the time frame for which the girl is claiming the assault, so if the bishop knew for absolute fact that the girl was lieing that could be a defense for the bishop, as the bishop would not have reason to believe or suspect the abuse.

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Thanks - that makes sense.

So the lesson here for leaders is "if knowledge of illegal activity is alleged or demonstrated it must be reported according to state and local laws."

I have known this for some between professional HR interview and coaching situations to Church leadership training.

Sadly if the Bishop in this case had followed Church policy and called the legal hotline he would have been protected.

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ARS 13-3620 A member of the clergy, ... who has received a confidential communication or a confession in that person's role as a member of the clergy, ... may withhold reporting of the communication or confession if the member of the clergy, ... determines that it is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.

I see nothing within the concepts of the LDS Church that determines that the continuation of child abuse and the ongoing subjection of a child to sexual assault is "reasonable and necessary".

I believe that if the Church was more serious about "zero tolerance" for child abuse, then the Church would not tolerate child abuse under guise of "exemptions" from mandatory reporting of child abuse.

CFR that the Church "tolerates" child abuse.

That is an outrageous accusation. You need to back it up or withdraw it.

Regards,

Pahoran

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In some cases, clergy protection laws would not require the Bishop to report the abuse. However, since the Bishop advised the victim not to report the issue to authorities, he loses that protection and will likely serve time behind bars. Bishops are advised to encourage the victims of sexual abuse to report it to authorities, though the Bishops themselves typically cannot report it. If he's telling the victim to hide the story, he's involved in the cover up and deserves to be prosecuted.

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In some cases, clergy protection laws would not require the Bishop to report the abuse. However, since the Bishop advised the victim not to report the issue to authorities, he loses that protection and will likely serve time behind bars. Bishops are advised to encourage the victims of sexual abuse to report it to authorities, though the Bishops themselves typically cannot report it. If he's telling the victim to hide the story, he's involved in the cover up and deserves to be prosecuted.

What if there was a hypothetical case where the alleged victim informed the Bishop that he had been abused at a certain time and place and the Bishop told him he was lying as he, the Bishop, knew the young man was nowhere near that place during that time or any else and advised him not to repeat his story to the police or others or he would get into trouble, adding he wanted to counsel him in the future because he was a troubled young man to do so. The young man insists he is telling the truth. The young man goes home and tells his parents the Bishop advised him not to report the abuse.

Would the Bishop be in trouble in this case? I am assuming he would be because the accusation still stands and it seems to me the correct procedure would be to report the accusation and then provide whatever additional information one has that contradicts the claim, thus allowing for no coverup, but also ensuring the police know as many facts as possible.

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What if there was a hypothetical case where the alleged victim informed the Bishop that he had been abused at a certain time and place and the Bishop told him he was lying as he, the Bishop, knew the young man was nowhere near that place during that time or any else and advised him not to repeat his story to the police or others or he would get into trouble, adding he wanted to counsel him in the future because he was a troubled young man to do so. The young man insists he is telling the truth. The young man goes home and tells his parents the Bishop advised him not to report the abuse.

Would the Bishop be in trouble in this case? I am assuming he would be because the accusation still stands and it seems to me the correct procedure would be to report the accusation and then provide whatever additional information one has that contradicts the claim, thus allowing for no coverup, but also ensuring the police know as many facts as possible.

I think that's an extreme case. However, there is compelling evidence in the case mentioned on this thread that the abuse did in fact happen. Bishops typically take any accusations of sexual abuse very seriously. However, in the hypothetical situation you've mentioned, the charges against the Bishop would likely be dropped upon a "not guilty" verdict against the defendant. The Bishop would have enough information to clear his name and it would be a non-issue.

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In some cases, clergy protection laws would not require the Bishop to report the abuse. However, since the Bishop advised the victim not to report the issue to authorities, he loses that protection and will likely serve time behind bars. Bishops are advised to encourage the victims of sexual abuse to report it to authorities, though the Bishops themselves typically cannot report it. If he's telling the victim to hide the story, he's involved in the cover up and deserves to be prosecuted.

If the perpetrator of the abuse confesses to the Bishop the clergy laws, in most cases, as I understand them does not requre the Bishop to report it but prevents him from doing so. If the victim comes to him he is bound to report the abuse. It gets real crazy. That is why the Bishop's Handbook says to call the Church Legal Department. It protects the victim, the Bishop and the Church when procedure is followed. My guess is this kind Bishop wanted to protect both the girl and the boy. Sometimes it can't be done and shouldn't be tried without competent legal advice.

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So what happens if someone confesses to molesting someone? Is the Bishop required to tell the authorities?

If that is a condition of state law yes.

That is why this Bishop is in trouble. Some states don't require ecclesiastical authority or counselors to report crimes confessed to them but Utah is a state that does require disclosure to legal authorities.

The sad part is that this Bishop did not follow church practices and procedures in place to help him report these alleged crimes to the proper authorities and therefore is now subject to punishment under the law.

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If the perpetrator of the abuse confesses to the Bishop the clergy laws, in most cases, as I understand them does not requre the Bishop to report it but prevents him from doing so. If the victim comes to him he is bound to report the abuse. It gets real crazy. That is why the Bishop's Handbook says to call the Church Legal Department. It protects the victim, the Bishop and the Church when procedure is followed. My guess is this kind Bishop wanted to protect both the girl and the boy. Sometimes it can't be done and shouldn't be tried without competent legal advice.

You're absolutely right. However, it's also the policy for the Bishop to encourage the victim (or in some cases the perpetrator) to report the incident to the proper legal authorities as soon as possible. In this case, the Bishop actively discouraged the victim from reporting the abuse, which if I understand correctly, is a violation of the clergy protection statute. It may be possible that the Bishop simply misunderstood what role clergy protection played in the case, but I'm not going to do much speculation beyond that. In most cases, Bishops are on the phone with Church attorneys almost immediately to make sure things like this don't happen.

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CFR that the Church "tolerates" child abuse.

That is an outrageous accusation. You need to back it up or withdraw it.

Regards,

Pahoran

I noticed that stealth accusation also. There is no "exemption" for Bishops to conceal sins under the law of the land or the law of God. That R cannot successfully be C'd.

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You're absolutely right. However, it's also the policy for the Bishop to encourage the victim (or in some cases the perpetrator) to report the incident to the proper legal authorities as soon as possible. In this case, the Bishop actively discouraged the victim from reporting the abuse, which if I understand correctly, is a violation of the clergy protection statute. It may be possible that the Bishop simply misunderstood what role clergy protection played in the case, but I'm not going to do much speculation beyond that. In most cases, Bishops are on the phone with Church attorneys almost immediately to make sure things like this don't happen.

I certainly agree. It is the only rational course of action.

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So what happens if someone confesses to molesting someone? Is the Bishop required to tell the authorities?

Trotter stated that Bishops are advised to follow local law. In Utah, Idaho, or Arizona (3 states with high LDS populations), local law does not require a Bishop to report child abuse or even ongoing child abuse, if the knowledge of the abuse was given by the abuser to the Bishop in a setting wherein the abuser is speaking to the Bishop as a Bishop.

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I noticed that stealth accusation also. There is no "exemption" for Bishops to conceal sins under the law of the land or the law of God. That R cannot successfully be C'd.

perhaps you forgot about this post of yours

Some states don't require ecclesiastical authority or counselors to report crimes confessed to them but Utah is a state that does require disclosure to legal authorities.

First you are incorrect about Utah law, clergy are exempt from reporting if the knowledge of the abuse is given to the clergy by the abuser.

Second, there absolutely is an exemption that exemption is written into the law of the land, I have posted both Azrizona's and Utah's exemptions for clergy to conceal sins. Idaho and California also have the exemption.

Idaho 16-1605:

(3) The notification requirements of subsection (1) of this section do not apply to a duly ordained minister of religion, with regard to any confession or confidential communication made to him ...

Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3620: A member of the clergy, ... who has received a confidential communication or a confession in that person's role as a member of the clergy, ... may withhold reporting of the communication or confession if the member of the clergy, ... determines that it is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.

here is the law from Utah

62A-4a-403. Reporting requirements

(3) (a) When a clergyman or priest receives information about abuse or neglect from any source other than confession of the perpetrator, the clergyman or priest is required to give notification on the basis of that information even though the clergyman or priest may have also received a report of abuse or neglect from the confession of the perpetrator.

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