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SBC sex abuse report


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2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Waiting for traumatised people to figure out how to work independently of local leaders and contact them in this way is not facilitating.

I think characterizing people as "traumatized" because they have a disagreement with someone is overwrought and infantilizing.

It's not very hard to call the stake president and say "I have a disagreement with how you are handling X and would like this matter to be reviewed by whomever it is that oversees your actions as stake president.  Could you tell me who that is and how I can contact him?"

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

The church has millions of members worldwide, an annual operating budget in the billions and an annual tithing surplus in the billions. It has the resources to invite victims of abuse to come forward, and to use a service for example like a hotline dedicated to members, and then use that hotline to *filter* out trivial matters.

It also has the resources to use the organizational structure of the Church as it now exists.

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Sexual abuse (and other abuse) happens, unfortunately, and the church and its leaders are not immune.

True, but also axiomatic.

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Reporting and disclosing abuse is not a straightforward action to undertake or receive.

It can be.  It should be.  Just talk to your bishop.

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

It can require courage and can also cost the victims dearly, even moreso if the abuser is in a leadership position.

That it can be emotionally difficult does not mean it is logistically difficult.  Again, just talk to your bishop.  And if the bishop is the abuser, then talk to the stake president.

And meanwhile, you can also contact law enforcement at any time.

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Victims need support and help that is visible and obvious and framed as an invitation to safety while also being pragmatically safe. 

There is typically noting unsafe about talking to a bishop.

2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

The process you suggest is certainly not a safe invitation for someone struggling with an abusive local leader. 

This is both overwrought and inaccurate.  People talk to bishops all the time.  If the bishop is the one being "abusive," then talk to the stake president.

You are making this more difficult than it is or needs to be.

Thanks,

-Smac

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13 minutes ago, smac97 said:

She didn't "stop the abuse," though, since the pastor was already "stepping down."  She just got her pound of flesh.

I also disagree that either public confession or public proclamation/accusation of sin is "a good way" to address such things.  As to the latter, there is typically no evidence to substantiate the charge, no "due process."  Instead, the accusation alone, having been declared publicly, becomes for many a de facto barometer of guilt.

Just look at what you are saying here: "And this woman ran up to say how he's sinned against her..."  You have reflexively accepted her say-so, her accusation, as presumptively true.  Not because you have any information or evidence about it, but because the woman made her accusation in public.    

Thanks,

-Smac

Did you watch the video?

The pastor stood up in a meeting with the congregation and confessed to 'adultery' and told them that he had repented of it 20 years ago.  He got a standing ovation.  When he went to sit down, the woman stood up and took the microphone and explained that what had actually happened was that he had begun grooming her when she was 15 and took her virginity on the floor of his office when she was 16.  The sexual relationship went on for 9 years. 

This woman was sexually abused by an adult--a religious leader--who called their sexual relationship 'adultery' and didn't confess that it happened with a child, and your gut reaction is to describe that as the victim getting "her pound of flesh"??  

The pastor admitted, after she spoke, that what she said was the truth.  So Tacenda isn't 'accepting her say-so'.

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

This pastor spoke about a sin he'd made and stepping down. And this woman ran up to say how he'd sinned against her as a 16 year old. Airing these things is a good way to stop the abuse. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/indiana-pastor-adultery-teen-woman-b2086334.html?amp&fbclid=IwAR0qMdM9ypqt1hEuzTjyrTnNF-iIXO1SzYDMqC1izLBS0roFpaAqZiCHkjU

I agree.  If more leaders believe that they might have to answer for their crimes in public, or at least be publicly called out on that, that might stop someone from deciding to do what they would otherwise do if they were guaranteed secrecy.

It's a shame that she had to do what she did to get the pastor to take full accountability for his actions.  Him pretending to do so, without actually admitting what happened, is pretty slimey.  

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12 hours ago, Calm said:

The problem I see is that while we are frequently told letters, etc will be referred back to our local leaders (SPs), we are rarely told we can and should contact up the line if we have concerns about those local leaders.  It is reasonable, imo, in the absence of instruction on a specific issue, to extrapolate from the instruction we do have.

Heretofore, I have been limiting my remarks to incidences of sexual assault by leaders. If your bishop and stake president are both sexually assaulting people in your stake, do you really think it's reasonable for members to extrapolate from the lack of explicit instruction about contacting up the line that there's nothing to be done in such a situation?

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

I love having a lay local leadership and hope that never changes.  I think there is too much to be gained by having our neighbours who live as we do mostly be our leaders.  

I agree.

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

However, the drawback to that is when issues come up that would be better handled by a professional, we are forced to deal with leader roulette. 

What sort of issues are we talking about here?

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

To balance out lay leadership, I believe a more effective feedback and reporting system should be in place rather than depending on leaders themselves to provide that info.  

Feedback and reporting for what, exactly?

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

When the Church was smaller, the neighbourhood/family/work grapevines and connections system likely was sufficient.  With the much larger and more mobile population, I think a much stronger official communication connection between the membership and upper echelons should be created. 

My first instinct is that such a tool would largely be like enabling the comments section online. I'm skeptical that there would be a net benefit to lowering the communication barrier much more than where it sits currently.

In fact, we recently had leadership training with a member of our Area Presidency and a member of the 70. Do you know what they said was one of the most common complaints they hear from members? Bishops allowing young men with ear rings to bless and/or pass the sacrament.

Opening up a complaint hotline for members to use would be like that times a thousand.

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

But it is filtering out a number of nontrivial matters in just my experience [...]

If you say so. Could you provide some examples of issues you are thinking about which would need to be elevated to the Area Presidency level (or above)?

In my experience, I believe these sorts of situations would be rare.

 

12 hours ago, Calm said:

I agree with this as far as the current setup.  But I think there is more likely a systemic problem with respect to reporting treatment by leaders of sexual abuse issues (and likely sexual issues in general with inappropriate questions being asked or information shared) though I don’t know how big it is.  I really hope not as big as I think it might be.  I have heard of too many victims being treated in ways that increase their trauma, even make it difficult, if not impossible for them to stay connected to the Church.

I'm not sure this is a major problem, but I certainly know that a great many bishops would welcome additional training on how to best serve those who are struggling. My experience has been that bishops are counseled to offer support but to simultaneously remember that they are not professional therapists themselves. Maybe in the olden days bishops would just do their best to wing it (with varying degrees of success), and I suspect that is why the church has shifted more toward a "help you get help" model for those sorts of situations.

 

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15 hours ago, Calm said:

My dad took me home teaching with him once. I met people in the ward I never saw at church and in difficult situations and saw my dad helping them. While I felt very awkward as I was quite shy, I think it was a very useful experience for me. 
 

I think seeing your parent as a minister is important in learning to be a minister yourself. I think having sons alternate would be a good idea if one has multiple sons of the right age. 

I will be in this situation next year. I will have a teacher age son and two priest age sons. As of right now I am assigned to minister with my eldest son. My middle son is not assigned to minister, and my youngest son is still a deacon and our ward does not assign ministering callings to deacons. But I would love to have all my sons be my companions, as long as I am not assigned too many families to minister to.

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30 minutes ago, bluebell said:

This situation happened to her, and I remember her talking about it on here when it all went down and she was trying desperately to hang on to her testimony and deal with her local leaders (she lives in Europe).  

I recall that.

30 minutes ago, bluebell said:

You can disagree with how she ultimately chose to move forward

 I am not sure I said I disagreed. Rather, my point was that she is making out the process of expressing and addressing concerns to be more difficult than it actually is.  

30 minutes ago, bluebell said:

but the bold is incredibly arrogant, seeing as how she is speaking from a place of actual experience with the topic and you are speaking in hypotheticals.

 I don't think her personal experience, the course of action she chose, is determinative.   I think what I said was and remains substantively true.   It is not particularly difficult to take a brief amount of time, take one's bearings, figure out to whom the stake president reports, and then contact that person.

 I understand that she was, at the time, emotionally distraught.   That sort of circumstance happens all the time.   I frequently have clients who come to me in that condition.  Sometimes they need quite a bit of legal help go help to get themselves out of a sticky and messy legal problem.  However, very often there are some simple things they can do for themselves.  Often the only thing, really, is that they need to set aside emotionalisms and do those things.  

 By way of example, I am currently involved in a case involving a mining dispute in a remote county in Utah.   My client did the right thing in hiring an attorney, and the other side has also hired an attorney.  The parties are situated to resolve the issue in a fairly straightforward manner.   The biggest impediment to that is that one of the parties is extremely angry at the other party.  Both sides want to resolve the issue in a fair way, but one side is presently having difficulty moving forward because of emotional considerations.

 As a result, the litigation may either become very long, very expensive and very damaging to both sides,  or else it may be able to be addressed and resolved more or less to everyone's satisfaction and in a very short period of time.   What happens next is largely going to be up to the angry guy.  If he can set aside his emotions, then things are looking very good.  If he can't, then things are going to be very expensive and time consuming and ultimately likely injurious to both partiesas to the initial claims.

 It is not arrogant of me to point this out.  I am not denying the guy's anger, nor am I diminishing its meaning and significance to him.   It would simply be inaccurate for him to say that resolving this issue is "hard," when in fact the only substantive difficulty in resolving this case is him getting past his anger.    He is characterizing the substance of the dispute, and how to address it, as being more difficult than it actually is, and by letting his emotions predominate he is making a resolution substantially more difficult then it needs to be.

 I think we don't do each other any favors when we conflate emotional responses with the actual circumstances of the issue.  I can have emotional feelings about a particular issue, while also recognizing that that the issue has dimensions that fall outside those feelings.  I think it would be bad for me to make make my emotions the central consideration.  This  Is a big part of why people go to court to resolve legal disputes.  The judge is, or is supposed to be, an impartial and dispassionate party.   Nobody wants the judge to render a decision based on emotionalism's, anger, malice, knee jerk reactions, personal investment, and so on.

Back to Meadow,  I again acknowledge her strong emotions, but those emotions were not, should not have been, determinative.   She had the capacity and opportunity then, as she does now, to set aside her (understandably) hard feelings and address the dispute with her stake president by by reasoning the matter through.   There is a substantial distance between a state president and the president of the church in terms of organizational structure, jurisdiction, responsibility, oversight, and so on.  The vast majority of the time, regular everyday members have little or no reason to avail themselves to these intermediate levels within the organization.   And in those rare instances where something needs to be specifically addressed by someone above a stake president, I. think it would not have been very difficult to sort that out.  It is not that there was no option available for her, it is that she did not avail herself of options that were available had she worked it through.

 I also don't think I am speaking in arrogance where she brought her dispute to this board and presented it for public discussion and analysis.   That my assessment and perspective of it differs from yours does not make me arrogant.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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34 minutes ago, smac97 said:

 

 I also don't think I am speaking in arrogance where she brought her dispute to this board and presented it for public discussion and analysis.   That my assessment and perspective of it differs from yours does not make me arrogant.  

Thanks,

-Smac

You're right.  That doesn't make you arrogant. 

I said it was arrogant to believe that you--who has never had to try to go over a SP's head because he wasn't following policy--know more about how difficult that is to do than she does--someone who actually has been in that situation.

 

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Waiting for traumatised people to figure out how to work independently of local leaders and contact them in this way is not facilitating.

There are five people in your ward who can obtain the contact information for pretty much any church leader, worldwide. And another five at the stake level. And if you don't want to go through any of them then you can call church headquarters yourself and they will give you the information. I think that's pretty accommodating. And much better than you will find in a great many organizations.

 

4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

You get an easier time reporting a problem with your yogurt these days with the number to report a product defect very frequently being on the box.

And you get why there may be a greater need for the government to require food manufacturers to provide a reporting mechanism for this sort of thing (from a public health perspective) as opposed to people wanting to talk to their pastor's "manager" about any little thing they may happen to disagree with.

 

4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

The church has millions of members worldwide, an annual operating budget in the billions and an annual tithing surplus in the billions. It has the resources to invite victims of abuse to come forward, and to use a service for example like a hotline dedicated to members, and then use that hotline to *filter* out trivial matters.

The church has an abuse hotline.

If you log into CDOL and pull up the directory for the church office building you will find its number listed under LDS Family Services.

The description provided is as follows: Adoptions, Single-Expectant Parents, Church Leader Consultation, Individual and Family Counseling, Addiction Recovery, Abuse help line.

I suspect this will not be enough to satisfy you, given I'm still not entirely clear on what you are actually wanting (in totality), but there you go.

 

4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Sexual abuse (and other abuse) happens, unfortunately, and the church and its leaders are not immune.

Agreed.

 

4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Reporting and disclosing abuse is not a straightforward action to undertake or receive. It can require courage and can also cost the victims dearly, even moreso if the abuser is in a leadership position. Victims need support and help that is visible and obvious and framed as an invitation to safety while also being pragmatically safe. 

The process you suggest is certainly not a safe invitation for someone struggling with an abusive local leader. 

If you say so. I'm not sure that I agree, but I'll give the matter additional thought.

 

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

This is both overwrought and inaccurate.  People talk to bishops all the time.  If the bishop is the one being "abusive," then talk to the stake president.

You are making this more difficult than it is or needs to be.

This is a gross simplification of complicated issue. Bishop's and Stake Presidents (even other leaders above) are in a brotherhood. There is a high likelihood that they will circle the wagons. It is not uncommon when issues get the attention of the public. If i was a victim to some form of abuse form my bishop, the stake president is not necessarily the next person i would talk to. If I was a woman, I would be even more hesitant to talk.

The quote above is a perfect example of how the church fits for those that are the "in" group. 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Calm said:

Did you pay attention to who took the sacrament?  I have heard this often said, but I wonder if anyone is really watching. I have never actually heard anyone who say they have noticed someone attending their ward not taking it independently of knowing they aren’t (because it is a family member or some other reason).  In the few cases I have heard of where people are aware when it is not family, they found out through gossip unfortunately, not because they noticed the person not taking it. 
 

Not that telling everyone that no one actually pays attention to who takes the sacrament besides the Bishop if this is true like I think will stop the shame. We too often assume people see scarlet letters when they are oblivious to such things because we project our shame on to others.  People will feel the shame if others look at them or not in most cases. 

I can't answer your question. But I can offer this. Apparently some folks notice when we (my wife and I) take the sacraments. I remember our bishop some years ago, telling us that some folks had "mentioned" to him that the church policy (rule?) was that guests and investigators may take the sacrament because the church does not want to embarrass or chase them away, appearing to discriminate against an honest seeker. On the other hand, they said, once it is clear that someone has more or less made it evident they are not going to join, they should not be allowed any longer to take the sacrament, unless they are a spouse or close relation of a member. I seem to remember some comments some years ago about this same issue (regarding me) by a couple of folks on this forum, one of whom is no longer posting, unless he has assumed a 13th identity! Ha!

I was supposed to be a panelist back in 2020 at a non-church forum in SLC, speaking from the perspective of one advocating for a better defined understanding of a "faithful non-member" in church policies. The whole thing was cancelled due to Covid. It seems that there is much, that unless specifically stated (only a member can have this calling, or do this or that in the handbook) that is left up to the local leader's discretion.


In our ward, the long-time bishop and the stake president were brother-in-laws. We (my wife and I) always assumed in a lighthearted manner that they talked about us over Sunday dinner. It seems that in a small ward in a rural area much is decided over Sunday dinner! I am sure we have been invited to be more active than would be the case in a larger urban ward. Maybe not! I really don't know.

Edited by Navidad
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Just now, Navidad said:

It seems that in a small ward in a rural area much is decided over Sunday dinner! I am sure we have been invited to be more active than would be the case in a larger urban ward. Maybe not! I really don't know.

20+ years ago, in our ward in Gilbert, AZ (back then, **the** area of heavy LDS density in Arizona. It's now shifting to Queen Creek/San Tan Valley as Gilbert ages demographically), my mom was RS president, my dad was HPGL, and I was EQP. This didn't sit well with some people, because the ward obviously had many other options outside of our family. But, that was the stake president and our bishop's call (no relation). 

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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

If your previous post wasn’t arrogant, this one certainly was. You see no problem in blaming Meadow for not being able to set aside her emotions and deal with things rationally? 

I often see the same thing as SMAC in my practice.  Someone can have a huge amount of emotional investment in their problem. The emotional gets in the way of the solution. I have often solved problems involving large sums of money fairly easily and inexpensively where my client has often spend countless hours and spent huge amounts of money trying to solve their problem.  Often the only difference is I am not emotionally invested and can think clearly where my client cannot.

This is a big reason for the saying that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, bluebell said:

You're right.  That doesn't make you arrogant. 

I said it was arrogant to believe that you--who has never had to try to go over a SP's head because he wasn't following policy--know more about how difficult that is to do than she does--someone who actually has been in that situation.

 

I once used a stake president to go over a mission president's head.

Its really not that hard.   One of the first things I learned when I started representing people is "find out who the boss is"  Everyone has a boss and just letting people know that you know who their boss is can help negotiations go better.

Edited by Danzo
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4 minutes ago, Danzo said:

I once used a stake president to go over a mission president's heard.

Its really not that hard.   One of the first things I learned when I started representing people is "find out who the boss is"  Everyone has a boss and just letting people know that you know who their boss is can help negotiations go better.

I'm sure it wasn't, since you had physical, email, and phone access to the SP.  Getting to a stake president is almost as easy as getting to the bishop, for most of us.  For people who live hours from their SP, it's probably a bit harder.  But still, the contact information is right there on LDS tools for anyone in the stake.

Going over the SP's head, is a different ball game.  I'm sure it can be done, but the logistics of doing it, compared to talking the stake president, are not the same.

 

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16 minutes ago, Danzo said:

I often see the same thing as SMAC in my practice.  Someone can have a huge amount of emotional investment in their problem. The emotional gets in the way of the solution. I have often solved problems involving large sums of money fairly easily and inexpensively where my client has often spend countless hours and spent huge amounts of money trying to solve their problem.  Often the only difference is I am not emotionally invested and can think clearly where my client cannot.

This is a big reason for the saying that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

I would assume that you are making these judgments about your clients based on your knowledge of them and their case. Would you make the same assessment of someone you don’t know and whose case you are not familiar with? That strikes me as arrogant and, to borrow a word, infantilizing people.

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Just now, jkwilliams said:

I would assume that you are making these judgments about your clients based on your knowledge of them and their case. Would you make the same assessment of someone you don’t know and whose case you are not familiar with? That strikes me as arrogant and, to borrow a word, infantilizing people.

It also ignores the fact that to have emotions is human and that there would be something seriously wrong with a person if they weren't emotional in these kinds of situations that we've been discussing.  Saying "look, if you could just shut off your emotions and deal with this like an impartial robot, you'd see that it's not a big deal" is as useful as telling someone that all their problems would be solved if they could just be more like a cucumber.

And, there is no way for someone in these kinds of situations to separate themselves from their emotional bias because, to use Danzo's words, they have to represent themselves.  There is no one else to do it.

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13 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I would assume that you are making these judgments about your clients based on your knowledge of them and their case. Would you make the same assessment of someone you don’t know and whose case you are not familiar with? That strikes me as arrogant and, to borrow a word, infantilizing people.

The idea that people don't represent themselves easily and often overlook simple solutions is the whole reason my profession exists.   

It is not at all hard to believe that people who are emotionally involved miss things.  It may not be true in every case but I would say it happens more often than not. 

I suppose in this case Meadowchick can answer for her self whether or not she tried to contact the supervisor of the person she had a dispute with.

 

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24 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I'm sure it wasn't, since you had physical, email, and phone access to the SP.  Getting to a stake president is almost as easy as getting to the bishop, for most of us.  For people who live hours from their SP, it's probably a bit harder.  But still, the contact information is right there on LDS tools for anyone in the stake.

Going over the SP's head, is a different ball game.  I'm sure it can be done, but the logistics of doing it, compared to talking the stake president, are not the same.

 

It may have been harder in the past, but these days with the internet, It really isn't hard. 

The harder part is knowing that you can contact someone's supervisor.    A lot of people get a No and stop there.  Not just in the church, but in all aspects of life.   I can believe that someone didn't think to go higher up a lot more easily than I can believe that they couldn't find the higher up.   Often when I deal with IRS agents or attorneys I will just casually ask how the supervisor is doing.  Casually letting them know that I know their supervisor goes a long way toward keeping things civil. 

Almost everyone has a higher up.  The police officer that pulls you over has a supervisor.  The IRS agent has a manager, the government attorney has a manager.  The Judge has an appeals court.   The Church has Bishop, Stake presidency, Area Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, First presidency, all of who have secretaries and other people who's job is to facilitate communication. 

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On 5/23/2022 at 10:44 AM, bluebell said:

I see what you are saying.  You are asking, how does someone report the abuse of a bishop or a stake president. That's not the purpose of the hotline though.

The hotline doesn't serve as a way to report abuse to the church, it only serves as a help for leaders who have members who have confessed abuse or accused other members of abuse to make sure that they proceed in a legal fashion.  The hotline is to the church's lawyers (as I understand it) and not to any ecclesiastical church leader.

From my perspective, if a member needed to report the abuse of a bishop they would go to the stake president.  Likewise, a member could report abuse by a stake president to the bishop.  If either of those options weren't seen as viable then they could report it to the area authority. 

Ideally though, such a member would just report the abuse directly to the police.  

 

Exactly- if you call the hotline you will be talking to a lawyer about legal issues.   I have done it several times.  It's not about reporting people or counselling, it's about keeping the church and personnel out of legal hot water, what one can or cannot do as an organization, or if xyz happened, the next steps that should be taken.  It's legal advice for leaders essentially, not about individual problems.

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