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AP Story about Abuse


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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, when they know that they can't prove a legal case.

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  and/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 callings.  

And the woman who was her visiting teacher probably witnessed and heard about lots of things that were at least arguably reportable (not that that would have necessarily helped.   This guy had training and had scared everyone in his family greatly.  And he came across as a good guy, not the least because he IS law enforcement.  And if I recall the woman was afraid of him.)  and certainly not alright and although my understanding is she tried to get mom to do something unsuccessfully, weighing whether report will help or only make things worse is rarely an easy call and often is made wrongly and result in more horror.

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).

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20 minutes ago, rpn said:

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).    

At what point do the needs of the abused override the needs of the abuser?  It appears that the church has chosen to side with the abusers needs over those of the abused. The church should be held accountable for this choice.

Edited by Fair Dinkum
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5 minutes ago, Fair Dinkum said:

At what point do the needs of the abused override the needs of the abuser?  It appears that the church has chosen to side with the abusers needs over those of the abused.

Someone else smarter than me made this point, but the church (more especially, the bishop) is really about the sinner.  Helping them back to a relationship with Christ, etc.  That is really the bishop's main role/responsibility.  The victims are often left to others to help.

In that sense, I can understand why the church often focuses on abusers--I think when it happens it's a misguided attempt to fulfill a genuine and very important responsibility--but I agree with you in that it should not come at the expense of the victims (and too often it does/has).  

In my opinion that is what needs to be fixed to ensure that it can't happen anymore.  

 

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51 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Someone else smarter than me made this point, but the church (more especially, the bishop) is really about the sinner.  Helping them back to a relationship with Christ, etc.  That is really the bishop's main role/responsibility.  The victims are often left to others to help.

In that sense, I can understand why the church often focuses on abusers--I think when it happens it's a misguided attempt to fulfill a genuine and very important responsibility--but I agree with you in that it should not come at the expense of the victims (and too often it does/has).  

In my opinion that is what needs to be fixed to ensure that it can't happen anymore.  

 

I most strenuously disagree with you here.  The healing offered by Christ's atonement is available to both the sinner as well has those who have been harmed by sin.  I have seen bishops spend hours of their time consoling those who have been harmed by others actions. 

"The first responsibilities of the Church in abuse cases are 1) to help, in a kind and sensitive way, those who have been abused and 2) to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse."

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/counseling-resources/counseling-resources?lang=eng&para=p7-p11#p7

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Quoting the Arizona attorney representing the bishops and the Church:  “These bishops did nothing wrong. They didn’t violate the law... "

The court may end up agreeing with him, but I disagree with the implication that "the law" is the highest authority on matters of "right and wrong."

Quoting Hymn Number 237:  "Do what is right, let the consequence follow."

Edited by manol
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1 hour ago, ksfisher said:

I most strenuously disagree with you here.  The healing offered by Christ's atonement is available to both the sinner as well has those who have been harmed by sin.  I have seen bishops spend hours of their time consoling those who have been harmed by others actions. 

"The first responsibilities of the Church in abuse cases are 1) to help, in a kind and sensitive way, those who have been abused and 2) to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse."

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/counseling-resources/counseling-resources?lang=eng&para=p7-p11#p7

I'm glad that you have seen this in action.  I have heard many many stories that turned out differently. 

We see in these cases that make the news that the first responsibilities of the church are not always where the ecclesiastical leader were focused.   I think we can agree that in this case specifically, two different bishops failed to carry out their "first" responsibilities in this situation, even though I'm guessing they fully believed they were doing all that their calling required them to do.

Regardless, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bishops, who did not request the authority that they hold and who I truly believe are almost always sincerely trying to do what they believe Christ would have them do.

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Just now, The Nehor said:

I hate this situation and I think if I was the bishop I would have reported it somehow.

One thing that some posts here remind me of is that many church members have a vastly inflated idea of what Bishops can do.

I know bishops who have been told that it is their duty to help the person find a husband, asked to discipline someone’s children by the actual parents, asked to give confirmation on someone’s financial decision, asked to make medical decisions for someone, etc. It is a problem, at least in the United States.

 

I’m well aware of that. When I was elder’s quorum president, two different people asked me come over and discipline their kids. I declined both times. 

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Policies and practices regarding abuse have evolved over the years in the Church and in society. What was required when I served as a bishop in 1982 is different from 2012 and now. 

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:
4 hours ago, JAHS said:

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.

Bishops have no legal or spiritual authority to remove a child from a parent’s home.

I am not talking about authority. Could he not still help arrange it if the family agrees to it? Like the child could live with another family in the ward. That happened in my stake a few times. 

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34 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I hate this situation and I think if I was the bishop I would have reported it somehow.

One thing that some posts here remind me of is that many church members have a vastly inflated idea of what Bishops can do.

I know bishops who have been told that it is their duty to help the person find a husband, asked to discipline someone’s children by the actual parents, asked to give confirmation on someone’s financial decision, asked to make medical decisions for someone, etc. It is a problem, at least in the United States.

 

My connections with the Susan Cox Powell lawsuit in Washington taught me that lawyers and judges are very keen on establishing the sources of information, and that laws regarding the separation of families can be difficult to understand. Child protection laws have become much more rigorous, but they are not infallible. I know from experience the unreasonable expectations some members put on their bishops.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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5 hours ago, JAHS said:

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.

How?  The bishop has no legal authority. Iirc having read transcripts when this first came out, the mother’s parents lived in California and the father’s some distance away (he was gone for a month or so helping them and during this time, the border patrol officer/Primary teacher/visiting teacher was trying to convince the mother to leave).

——

On another note, it doesn’t seem like the family was completely neglected by the second bishop. From the was the border patrol co-worker talked, she was assigned to be the woman’s visiting teacher because of the kids looking on her as a friend and the mom being willing to open up to a certain extent. The officer said she suspected which was why she was always pushing the mom to leave with the kids, but the kids never said anything about their dad and the mom would deny it if ever asked. Iirc, the officer said the entire ward was ready to step in and help, so it must have been well known some level of abuse was likely.  The officer said she was just waiting for the father to lose it at work and start shooting everyone. She was always on alert, ready with her gun because he was violent. He had been suspended once for making threats and then rehired. 
 

Weird situation all around. Got to wonder why his bosses let him get away with his inappropriate behaviour to the point his coworkers were fearful of him. 

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Also the mom was not easy to deal with, not communicative in general and would shut down about what was going on if asked by Warr, the border patrol officer. Iirc, her brother was claiming she was autistic at her trial or sentencing hearing, but I never read it that was valid. She definitely was emotionally dysfunctional, whether because of she was also abused (she made those claims after she was arrested or was looked at as an accomplice iirc) or having development issues (her brother claimed she always had problems with social interaction, etc even before marriage) may be unknown still.  Most likely a combo I bet.  She sounded emotionally numb or even dead from the way she was described and mostly concerned about herself, unable to have sympathy towards her children.  After two years of parenting classes while in jail, they asked her what she would do to discipline her kids and she said something like forcefeed them vinegar…been too long to remember details, but it was completely wrong in so many ways. The mom was telling the daughter she was saying nonsense when she said she was raped even after they had the evidence.  There was no compassion for what her kids went through. They were just a bother. Of course, this is what I got from reading the transcripts, so a very slanted view. It may be quite off. 

Recommendation was not to allow any contact with her kids till they were adults and could decide for themselves.  And the kids were so screwed up the recommendation was to split them up because they were abusive to each other or at least the kids would not be able to feel safe in each other’s presence.

I realize this would open a can of worms, but I wish people had to pass a test if minimal emotional maturity and emotional intelligence and parental skills before being able to have children. There are some people who should not be allowed to have children. Just not sure how one could set this up in an ethical and intelligence and compassionate way. 

Edited by Calm
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Some questions that I have been thinking about and mulling over. Here are my thoughts, I'm curious what others would say, especially those who have experience in law or addressing abuse:

Should it be church policy for a bishop to contact a helpline for guidance before doing anything?

I'd say YES, because bishops are not professionally trained to handle abuse and don't have an understanding of the ramifications, legal or otherwise, for the victim, the perpetrator, or the Church of anything they do. A helpline properly implemented would make sure they do the right thing. 

Should the helpline be run by the Church?

I'd say NO, cause as the article states, the helpline could "divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and instead to church attorneys who may bury the problem, leaving victims in harm’s way".  

Should a helpline refer bishops to legal counsel in cases of abuse?

I'd say YES, because laws differ by country and even by state, so legal counsel seems important in this scenario, especially since incorrect action by a bishop could be bad for the victim.

Should a helpline refer bishops to legal counsel that also has a vested interested in protecting the Church?

I'd say NO because their legal counsel could lend greater weight to the interests of the Church than the interests of the victim.

Regardless of what "should" be, given what the situation "was", who is morally responsible (not legally), for the continuation of abuse by the perpetrator?

I still don't know what I think. I'd say a combination of the church lawyers, Bishop Herrod, and maybe the system in general. The lawyers should not have incorrectly told Bishop Herrod "You absolutely can do nothing", because that appears incorrect per the Arizona law.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, rpn said:

   I would have released him from all callings.  

I got the idea he wasn’t active. His wife attended church on her own with the kids. They had the one counseling session with the husband because the bishop has no influence over the dad. 
 

The visiting teacher could only come over when the dad wasn’t there. There was no mention of home teachers or anyone else allowed in the home. Iirc Warr said she was the only ever allowed in. 

Edited by Calm
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26 minutes ago, Calm said:

I got the idea he wasn’t active. His wife attended church on her own with the kids. They had the one counseling session with the husband because the bishop has no influence over the dad. 

He was actually excommunicated by the second bishop in 2013 (from the AP article).  He wasn't caught until 2017.

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4 hours ago, JAHS said:

I am not talking about authority. Could he not still help arrange it if the family agrees to it? Like the child could live with another family in the ward. That happened in my stake a few times. 

Yeah, but what possible reason would they have to let a family take their children that are literally incriminating evidence? 

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9 hours ago, rpn said:

And he came across as a good guy, not the least because he IS law enforcement. 

While the data is confusing and the extent it is above the average is contested law enforcement households have a higher rate of domestic abuse than the general population.

The Border Patrol is particularly problematic. Corruption rates are very high and those are just the ones that were caught. Part of the problem is that in the early part of the 21st century the size of the agency almost doubled. There weren’t a lot of people eager to join and even fewer well-qualified applicants so hiring standards plummeted. There were also a few groups with nefarious motives that would be eager to get someone they knew into the agency and a lot of that happened. It has been a disaster in the organization since the early 2000s.

Edited by The Nehor
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5 hours ago, JAHS said:

I am not talking about authority. Could he not still help arrange it if the family agrees to it? Like the child could live with another family in the ward. That happened in my stake a few times. 

Neither the mother nor the father were cooperative from what I read, the mother likely out of fear of the father, but there might have been something wrong with her so she just did not care enough. 

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9 hours ago, rpn said:

And the woman who was her visiting teacher probably witnessed and heard about lots of things that were at least arguably reportable

She testified she didn’t. The kids were covered at church so no bruises showed and never spoke of the dad or much at all iirc. She was not allowed in the home if the father was there and not that often otherwise. The mom always denied there was any abuse (though there was confusion between statements iirc on this point).  However, it sounds like she was gently pressuring the mom to leave, even telling her she would stand over her with her gun while she was packing up just in case he came home. Obviously she knew something was wrong. 
 

I will try and find the link to her testimony tomorrow and we can see how accurate my memory is on this. I am too tired tonight to do it. 

Edited by Calm
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11 hours ago, Tacenda said:

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.

The Bishop should of ignored the poor advice of the hot line and done the right thing. Blind obedience never ends well.

Quote

We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly.

Millenial Star 1852 edition =XIV - Page 594

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