Jump to content

AP Story about Abuse


jkwilliams

Recommended Posts

This is a really depressing story.


https://apnews.com/article/Mormon-church-sexual-abuse-investigation-e0e39cf9aa4fbe0d8c1442033b894660?fbclid=IwAR1BhS6WREss6MkKhJNn-sezlHBpBr8-OPwXIYFw1ouRAhe7IidAoEFFpbM
 

In his AP interview, Maledon also insisted Herrod did not know that Adams was continuing to sexually assault his daughter after learning of the abuse in a single counseling session.

But in the recorded interview with the agent obtained by the AP, Herrod said he asked Leizza Adams in multiple sessions if the abuse was ongoing and asked her, “What are we going to do to stop it?”

“At least for a period of time I assumed they had stopped things, but — and then I never asked if they picked up again.” ...

Herrod also told Edwards that when he called the help line, church officials told him the state’s clergy-penitent privilege required him to keep Adams’s abuse confidential.

But the law required no such thing.

Arizona’s child sex abuse reporting law, and similar laws in more than 20 states that require clergy to report child sex abuse and neglect, says that clergy, physicians, nurses, or anyone caring for a child who “reasonably believes” a child has been abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report the information to police or the state Department of Child Safety. But it also says that clergy who receive information about child neglect or sexual abuse during spiritual confessions “may withhold” that information from authorities if the clergy determine it is “reasonable and necessary” under church doctrine.

 

 

Link to comment
2 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I really hope the hotline is better now than it was then.  Repentance of the sinner cannot be the main focus of these kinds of interactions.  The church failed that little girl (and others too I'm sure).  There is no excuse anymore.

I hope so, too. I have no way of knowing, though.

Link to comment

Despicable, all of it. First saw this a while back on the forum, and then on FB a Fox 13 post brought it all up again a few minutes ago. Just finished reading the article and came on here to post about it and JK beat me to it. How could they continue to let this ******* continually abuse his daughters even after two bishops made calls about the same situation. And one of the bishops a damn doctor. It's pure evil. And when the church accumulates the amount of money they have I guess that's one of the reasons for the rainy day fund. Christ would not approve. Shame on the church and it's lawyers.

This stood out to me, in the article.

Before establishing the help line in 1995, the Mormon church simply instructed bishops to comply with local child sex abuse reporting laws.

Link to comment

Also this is extremely disturbing:

"The protocol advises those taking the calls to instruct a “priesthood leader,” which includes bishops and stake presidents, to encourage the perpetrator, the victim, or others who know of the abuse to report it. But it also says, in capital letters, that those taking the calls “should never advise a priesthood leader to report abuse. Counsel of this nature should come only from legal counsel.”

"That counsel comes from attorneys from Kirton McConkie, which represents the church."

 

Link to comment
16 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I thought that line was about the first line social workers not making disclosure recommendations and then they transferred to the lawyers?

I have only seen a few of these cases in the church. The Bishop was instructed that, if possible, get someone other than the Bishop to report the abuse to avoid dragging clergy confidentiality issues into the case which makes sense both to avoid giving the defendant a weapon in court and to keep the bishop out of the legal fracas. In every case I know of CPS was informed pretty promptly. 

Under a reading of the law I don’t think that there is a case against the church legally. What I wish the law said was that the disclosure of child abuse by clergy cannot be taken as precedent for requiring clergy disclosure on other issues. I see why the church doesn’t want to risk losing clergy-penitent privilege and make a bishop supoena-able (is that a word) for any case where the person may have gone to their bishop no matter the severity.

Can we explicitly carve out this exception in state laws?

On second reading, I can understand the counsel to let legal handle any reporting. I don't understand a bishop who doesn't follow up when he knows there is ongoing abuse.

Edited by jkwilliams
Link to comment
34 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I have only seen a few of these cases in the church. The Bishop was instructed that, if possible, get someone other than the Bishop to report the abuse to avoid dragging clergy confidentiality issues into the case which makes sense both to avoid giving the defendant a weapon in court and to keep the bishop out of the legal fracas. In every case I know of CPS was informed pretty promptly. 

The article said that:

Quote

Arizona’s child sex abuse reporting law, and similar laws in more than 20 states that require clergy to report child sex abuse and neglect, says that clergy, physicians, nurses, or anyone caring for a child who “reasonably believes” a child has been abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report the information to police or the state Department of Child Safety. But it also says that clergy who receive information about child neglect or sexual abuse during spiritual confessions “may withhold” that information from authorities if the clergy determine it is “reasonable and necessary” under church doctrine.

Given the law in Arizona, would a report by the bishop still have dragged "clergy confidentiality issues into the case" and  "given the defendant a weapon in court"?

Just trying to understand the legal intricacies here.

Edited by Ferdinand55
Link to comment
43 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Also this is extremely disturbing:

"The protocol advises those taking the calls to instruct a “priesthood leader,” which includes bishops and stake presidents, to encourage the perpetrator, the victim, or others who know of the abuse to report it. But it also says, in capital letters, that those taking the calls “should never advise a priesthood leader to report abuse. Counsel of this nature should come only from legal counsel.”

"That counsel comes from attorneys from Kirton McConkie, which represents the church."

 

That actually makes sense to me, because it would be horrible if someone's case couldn't be prosecuted because the bishop reported it when it was against the law to do so, and screwed everything up.

My issue is that, unless it is strictly illegal for a bishop to report it, legal should always require reporting.  Repentance is important but not more important than stopping abuse. 

It obviously wasn't the case when all of this was going down, but I hope it's the case now.

Link to comment
6 minutes ago, Ferdinand55 said:

The article said that:

Given the law in Arizona, would a report by the bishop still have dragged "clergy confidentiality issues into the case" and  "given the defendant a weapon in court"?

Just trying to understand the legal intricacies here.

Sure doesn't look like it, thanks for posting this, I had read it the way you did, I think. And do recall where it said the bishop was told that if he spoke up he could get sued or something. I think if I were the bishop, no I know, I would have done it because I couldn't live with myself knowing that sicko was abusing these children, money is nothing when it comes to the innocent children out among us. There is a special hell for those that can authorize it to keep happening over the mighty dollar. 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

This is a really depressing story.


https://apnews.com/article/Mormon-church-sexual-abuse-investigation-e0e39cf9aa4fbe0d8c1442033b894660?fbclid=IwAR1BhS6WREss6MkKhJNn-sezlHBpBr8-OPwXIYFw1ouRAhe7IidAoEFFpbM
 

In his AP interview, Maledon also insisted Herrod did not know that Adams was continuing to sexually assault his daughter after learning of the abuse in a single counseling session.

But in the recorded interview with the agent obtained by the AP, Herrod said he asked Leizza Adams in multiple sessions if the abuse was ongoing and asked her, “What are we going to do to stop it?”

“At least for a period of time I assumed they had stopped things, but — and then I never asked if they picked up again.” ...

Herrod also told Edwards that when he called the help line, church officials told him the state’s clergy-penitent privilege required him to keep Adams’s abuse confidential.

But the law required no such thing.

Arizona’s child sex abuse reporting law, and similar laws in more than 20 states that require clergy to report child sex abuse and neglect, says that clergy, physicians, nurses, or anyone caring for a child who “reasonably believes” a child has been abused or neglected has a legal obligation to report the information to police or the state Department of Child Safety. But it also says that clergy who receive information about child neglect or sexual abuse during spiritual confessions “may withhold” that information from authorities if the clergy determine it is “reasonable and necessary” under church doctrine.

Terribly sad.

I don't know what to think about the clergy-penitent privilege law.  I can see it both ways.  My instinct, as a nurse and hopefully as a human being, would be to report.  Putting bishops in the position of having to keep such abuse a secret could be traumatic even for the bishop.  It would be for me if I was a bishop placed in that position.  I don't think I would ever be able to sleep peacefully at night.   I would feel traumatically burdened with the overwhelming responsibility of being this girls sole source of help and hope.  Having extremely little to no leverage through spiritual counseling if the perpetrator does not stop - knowing that I have the power to stop it, but am expected to choose not to.  I don't think I could emotionally cope with that stress and burden.  It would break me. 

Beyond the issue of clergy-penitent privilege, I find the bishops response to the situation to be negligent.  If the attorney is right that there was only 1 counseling session - that is a big problem.  If the bishop is correct that he just "assumed" that they stopped things and "never asked if they picked up again", that is also a big problem.   Out of all the duties a bishop has, following up with reported child sexual abuse would be on the top of the list of things to follow up with.  Was there any attempt to get the father and daughter in counseling and therapy help?  What other resources should/could be utilized that were not? 

I also find the bishops attorney's comment and accusations against the victims to be extremely distasteful and out-of-line:

Quote

 “These bishops did nothing wrong. They didn’t violate the law, and therefore they can’t be held liable,” he said. Maledon referred to the suit as “a money grab.”

To accuse childhood sexual abuse victims who didn't feel protected by their ecclesiastical leaders as simply being in this for a "money grab", is disgraceful.  What a jerk! 

Also, "doing nothing wrong" and not being legally liable are two different things.  It looks to me like the bishop did something terribly wrong in not-following up and simply assuming things had stopped.  

Edited by pogi
Link to comment
6 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Sure doesn't look like it, thanks for posting this, I had read it the way you did, I think. And do recall where it said the bishop was told that if he spoke up he could get sued or something. I think if I were the bishop, no I know, I would have done it because I couldn't live with myself knowing that sicko was abusing these children, money is nothing when it comes to the innocent children out among us. There is a special hell for those that can authorize it to keep happening over the mighty dollar. 

I would think that once a Bishop learns about this if he does not report it he could at least have the child removed from the situation and placed in another home. But that might not be such an easy thing to do either without divulging a reason for doing it.

Link to comment
9 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Sure doesn't look like it, thanks for posting this, I had read it the way you did, I think. And do recall where it said the bishop was told that if he spoke up he could get sued or something. I think if I were the bishop, no I know, I would have done it because I couldn't live with myself knowing that sicko was abusing these children, money is nothing when it comes to the innocent children out among us. There is a special hell for those that can authorize it to keep happening over the mighty dollar. 

But would you do it if you know that by telling the police, you are letting the man go free?  I am definitely not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but I believe that in some situations (such as client-attorney privileges), if you break that privilege, your entire testimony is suspect and has to be excluded.  And it is possible that anything the police did because of your testimony can also be excluded.

That's the issue for me here.  If the bishop did break the clergy-penitent privilege, does that mean that the man goes free?  Or can the bishop break the clergy-penitent privilege and get the man behind bars.

Hopefully, this lawsuit will help clarify the AZ law.

Link to comment
Just now, webbles said:

But would you do it if you know that by telling the police, you are letting the man go free?  I am definitely not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but I believe that in some situations (such as client-attorney privileges), if you break that privilege, your entire testimony is suspect and has to be excluded.  And it is possible that anything the police did because of your testimony can also be excluded.

That's the issue for me here.  If the bishop did break the clergy-penitent privilege, does that mean that the man goes free?  Or can the bishop break the clergy-penitent privilege and get the man behind bars.

Hopefully, this lawsuit will help clarify the AZ law.

According to the law (at least as the AP describes it), clergy "may" break privilege, so as far as I can tell, there would be no grounds for excluding it. That's what my family law attorney friend tells me.

Link to comment

Here's the actual law https://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/03620.htm.  I think this quote is the "client-penitent" privilege exception:

Quote

A member of the clergy, a Christian Science practitioner or a priest who has received a confidential communication or a confession in that person's role as a member of the clergy, as a Christian Science practitioner or as a priest in the course of the discipline enjoined by the church to which the member of the clergy, the Christian Science practitioner or the priest belongs may withhold reporting of the communication or confession if the member of the clergy, the Christian Science practitioner or the priest determines that it is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.  This exemption applies only to the communication or confession and not to personal observations the member of the clergy, the Christian Science practitioner or the priest may otherwise make of the minor

So, it looks like the clergy "may withhold" if it is "reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion".  For Catholics, the confessional is absolute so they wouldn't even report it.  But I'm not sure the confessions to bishops are hold to that high regard.  But maybe the church lawyers see it as being "reasonable and necessary".

Link to comment
25 minutes ago, pogi said:

Beyond the issue of clergy-penitent privilege, I find the bishops response to the situation to be negligent.  If the attorney is right that there was only 1 counseling session - that is a big problem.  If the bishop is correct that he just "assumed" that they stopped things and "never asked if they picked up again", that is also a big problem.   Out of all the duties a bishop has, following up with reported child sexual abuse would be on the top of the list of things to follow up with.  Was there any attempt to get the father and daughter in counseling and therapy help?  What other resources should/could be utilized that were not? 

It was more than 1 counseling session, per the article.

Quote

Herrod continued to counsel MJ’s father, Paul Douglas Adams, for another year, and brought in Adams’ wife, Leizza Adams, in hopes she would do something to protect the children. She didn’t. Herrod later told a second bishop, who also kept the matter secret after consulting with church officials who maintain that the bishops were excused from reporting the abuse to police under the state’s so-called clergy-penitent privilege.

Not sure of the complete timeline but the article says that Herrod was replaced as bishop on 2012.  And Adams was excommunicated in 2013 and then arrested in 2017.  So, I'm guessing the Herrod found about it around 2010/2011, counseled Adams, then the new bishop came in 2012 and excommunicated him.

I would have thought that child abuse was an automatic excommunication so I would have expected him to be excommunicated sooner than he was.  And I don't think members of the disciplinary council are "privileged", so shouldn't one of them have gone to the police?  Or was the excommunication over something else?

Edit: add the arrest year

Edited by webbles
Link to comment
1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

Same here. Surely clergy have a responsibility to report abuse when the law permits breaking confidentiality. 

Not condoning anything here, but if an abuser knew that his or her bishop was going to report the contents of a confession to the police, would the abuser instead decide to remain silent?  While it's not by any means a perfect system, with the seal of confidentiality intact it can at least give the bishop an opportunity to work with the abuser and encourage the abuser to self report to the police.

Link to comment
16 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

Not condoning anything here, but if an abuser knew that his or her bishop was going to report the contents of a confession to the police, would the abuser instead decide to remain silent?  While it's not by any means a perfect system, with the seal of confidentiality intact it can at least give the bishop an opportunity to work with the abuser and encourage the abuser to self report to the police.

You do have a point, but it didn't do much good in this case sadly.

Link to comment

The church might have a decent legal defense. But they might not. The article presents a good case why clergy confidentiality doesn't apply.

But there are much larger issues at play here. Relying on legalities like the concern over liability for the church, or worrying "legal intricacies" instead of responding for what most people would be a simple and powerful moral impulse that says they should report this abuse is pretty damning  and suggests a broken moral compass for the bishops and the church's hotline. Do what is right, let the consequence follow. Not call the hotline, equivocate, fail to help, and then call the lawyers to avoid liability. 

And that is the problem for the modern church. The command to love and care gets buried under legalist wrangling and bureaucracy. The bishops that should care about their flock, do nothing meaningful in the face of sexual abuse because of a hotline. The church devoted to the Man who flipped over tables at the temple, and claims to be His church, now has a cover your butt hot line that ends up failing to help abused children. The church does, however, employ an expensive law firm to provide a legal defense over that failure to help. That is really sad. 

 

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

Battle for freedom in spirit and might;

And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

 Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.

Onward, press onward, the goal is in sight.

Eyes that are wet now, ere long will be tearless.

Blessings await you in doing what’s right!

Link to comment

It is a story that has been in the news for a while and is currently in the news because the attorneys for the plaintiff want to pressure the Church to settle.  

What is most peculiar  to me is that that bishop apparently really DID nothing.

I agree strongly in priest/penitent privilege --- it is the only way that a perp can confess and start the process of change.   (Having raised many troubled children I know the value of the confessional for people who are struggling with righteous living and turning their lives around.     But if I'd been that bishop, I'd have told the man that I was going to do everything I could to assure he didn't do that again, without violating the privilege.  And that if he failed to get his kids counseling or moved away I would do everything I could to protect his wife and family without violating the privilege.   I would have released him from all assignments. 

I would also have interviewed the mother and asked her about her feelings of safety for her and her children.   I would have encouraged her to call the domestic abuse hotline or child abuse hotline or a domestic violence hotline if she ever felt the need to do so (there were probably public signs of the abuse if anyone was looking, and give her all the numbers, and tell her  the ward would support all efforts to keep herself and the kiddo's safe, including paying for a hotel or therapy bills that she felt unsafe letting her dh know about.     He could  have done that without any disclosures (though of course the perp wouldn't have seen it that way).    

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...