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(3rd) Update on Arizona Abuse Case


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Just now, smac97 said:

I am curious about this characterization, in a few different ways:

1. A Strange Narrative: It seems like the narrative is that the helpline attorneys are discouraging/prohibiting bishops from reporting allegations of abuse, which if so would increase exposure to liability (for failure to report).  And then there's the significant damage done to the Church's reputation by such a scheme.  Given such increased risks as to both legal liability and reputational harm, how does this "shield{ing} the church from legal liability" thing work? 

2. Questionable Inferences: The narrative also seems a bit odd given the inference of depravity it carries.  Daniel C. Peterson put it well:

The Brethren are decent men.  Family men.  Moreover, they are fairly intelligent, well-educated and well-informed.  The narrative, however, more or less requires us to infer that these men are both depraved (they sanction sacrificing the welfare of abuse victims in order to - somehow - "shield the church from legal liability"), and stupid (they are not aware of the increased risks, both as to legal liability and reputational harm, arising from a scheme to discourage/prohibit reporting of abuse).

Pres. Oaks graduated cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, clerked for the Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court, taught law for ten years at the University of Chicago, served on the Utah Supreme Court, and was twice considered for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Elder Christofferson graduated got his JD from Duke University, clerked for a federal judge, and spent years practicing law.  Elder Cook got his JC from Stanford and spent decades as a corporate attorney in San Francisco, as CEO of California Health System, and did pro bono work as a city attorney for 14 years.

These men are, I think, pretty attuned to how the law works, both in the courtroom as in the "real world."  The suggested narrative requires that they are broadly indifferent to the abuse of innocents and/or are grossly incompetent and ignorant of the ramifications of taking the path the narrative suggests.  That seems . . . implausible.

3. Faulty/Hasty Generalization: The narrative being purveyed here is also difficult to square with the Deseret News article by Kate Taylor Lauck, who has had first-hand experience with the helpline (she previously worked as one of the attorneys on it) :

I think the narrative may be a form of a logical fallacy, namely, a "hasty" or "faulty" generalization.  See, e.g., here:

And here:

The narrative seems to be built on this fallacy.  

4. Counter-Anecdote: My personal experiences with the helpline were uniformly positive, though happening under difficult circumstances.  The legal advice was sound and appropriate.  That said, the basis/reasoning for the legal advice was, in some instances, difficult to fully understand.  And I say this as an attorney with 18 years of litigation experience.  I imagine bishops with no training whatsoever might on occasion feel perplexed or confused.  

Thanks,

-Smac

You're certainly reading a lot into what I said. My point was, again, that apparently some bishops have an impression of the help line that is more in line with how the AP described it. None of the people I've talked to have any interest in making the church seem depraved or indifferent. Nor are they trying to find fault. I have no experience with the help line, so I can't say one way or another. That the impression is out there suggests to me at the very least a messaging problem. 

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17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

This is my main concern regarding the role that local leadership plays in the lives of the members. These men are not adequately trained nor equipped to handle any of these situations.

I dunno.  The handbook is there.  The guidelines are there.  The helpline is there.  The "line of authority" is there.  Seems like bishops are both "trained" and "equipped."

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

These men all have day jobs, families, and stressors, now they are also asked to deal with very traumatic and life-changing, family-splitting events with essentially no training.

Well, no.  They do have training.  And resources.  Bishops "deal with" these issues by A) providing pastoral care, and B) facilitating assistance to families in difficult times.  Food and commodities orders.  Financial assistance for necessaries and, where appropriate, therapy.  Emergency assistance.  Ongoing support from other ward members.  

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

These are situations that licensed therapists and legal professionals struggle to even deal with.

No doubt.  Hence the helpline and other resources available to bishops.

I am not sure you are accurately characterizing what bishops are called upon to do.  Their burdens are substantial, but they are generally not called upon to "deal with" issues beyond the scope of their competency as lay clergy.  

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

The church teaches members to rely on their local leaders for most things.

Not in the first instance.  The Church teaches members self-reliance as well.  And it also emphasizes strong families.  And education.  And moral conduct.  And the Word of Wisdom.  And the Law of Chastity.  And kindness in our communications.  And unequivocal condemnation of any type of abuse.

Members are encouraged to live in accordance with these things, and in doing so they can and do avoid many pitfalls and problems.  Many, but not all.  Bishops provide counsel and support and assistance, but "most things" are left to the individual.

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

There are better resources out there than your leaders.

Yes and no.

And we needn't take an either/or approach to this.  We don't need to choose either help from a church leader or help from other resources.  

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

The story above is a perfect example of someone raising the alarm, via the approved channels, with the same results.

I think your reasoning suffers from a substantial sampling error.  That is, you seem to think the story in this case is representative of the whole.  With respect, I can't go along with that.  This story is newsworthy precisely because it is so bad and so outside the norm.  The helpline has been up and running since 1995, and likely takes hundreds of calls each week from bishops.  There are no splashy and sensationalistic AP articles about when the helpline does work to facilitate the cessation and/or reporting of abuse.  That is, I think, the numerically overwhelming result of the helpline, but it is virtually never a newsworthy result.  Hence the sampling error.  A hasty generalization.

17 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

How will escalating it protect future victims? 

If a sexual predator is "testing boundaries" at church meetings/activities, and if this is an ongoing and demonstrably problematic thing, and if the bishop still is not taking corrective/protective measures, then I think MorningStar should compile her concerns into written form and submit them to the stake president.  I think she needs to get down to brass tacks.  Specific incidents.  Names.  Dates.  Places.  Witnesses.  What has this guy done that is actually predatory or potentially problematic?  When?  Where?  Who else saw this misconduct?  How many times?  How many times has this been reported to the bishop?  How has the bishop responded?  And if as a result the misconduct is still ongoing, is it serious enough to warrant application of section 38.1.1 of the Handbook?

Quote

If there is inappropriate behavior, the bishop or stake president gives private counsel in a spirit of love. He encourages those whose behavior is improper for the occasion to focus on helping maintain a sacred space for everyone present with a special emphasis on worshipping Heavenly Father and the Savior.

Church meetinghouses remain private property subject to Church policies. Persons unwilling to follow these guidelines will be asked in a respectful way not to attend Church meetings and events.

Prohibiting someone "unwilling to follow these guidelines" will likely "protect future victims" that he would otherwise have had access to via Church meetings and activities.

Thanks,

-Smac

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11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

You're certainly reading a lot into what I said.

  • "{The helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."
  • "I know the official line is that the help line has been mischaracterized, but friends of mine who have had experiences with the help line support the AP article's version. I'm having a difficult time buying the official line. If the system is broken, own it, fix it, and move forward."

This is the narrative on which I was commenting.

11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

My point was, again, that apparently some bishops have an impression of the help line that is more in line with how the AP described it.

I know.  That's the intended "impression."  The intended narrative.

11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

None of the people I've talked to have any interest in making the church seem depraved or indifferent.

There isn't really any other way to take public characterizations of the Church's efforts like "{the helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."

11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Nor are they trying to find fault.

But the narrative is trying to do that.  That's my point.  And it's attempting to "find fault" based on a hasty generalization.

11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I have no experience with the help line, so I can't say one way or another.

I do.  Moreover, we have direct statements from a percipient witness of one of the attorneys who mans the helpline.  We also have knowledge regarding the character and reputation of the leaders of the Church.  They are husbands, fathers, grandfathers.  They are well-educated and well-experienced men, both as to the things of the world and as to matters of church governance and administration.  They are not cloistered or ignorant to what is happening in the Church and in the world.  They are not in this for the money.  They seem overwhelmingly decent and good.

And nonethless, the narrative being perpetuated is, as you put it, that "{the helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."  That just seems . . . implausible.

11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

That the impression is out there suggests to me at the very least a messaging problem. 

To be sure.  When news items like the AP story are crafting the narrative, and when countervailing evidence is not given time or attention, then "messaging problem{s}" will arise.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:
  • "{The helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."
  • "I know the official line is that the help line has been mischaracterized, but friends of mine who have had experiences with the help line support the AP article's version. I'm having a difficult time buying the official line. If the system is broken, own it, fix it, and move forward."

This is the narrative on which I was commenting.

I know.  That's the intended "impression."  The intended narrative.

There isn't really any other way to take public characterizations of the Church's efforts like "{the helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."

But the narrative is trying to do that.  That's my point.  And it's attempting to "find fault" based on a hasty generalization.

I do.  Moreover, we have direct statements from a percipient witness of one of the attorneys who mans the helpline.  We also have knowledge regarding the character and reputation of the leaders of the Church.  They are husbands, fathers, grandfathers.  They are well-educated and well-experienced men, both as to the things of the world and as to matters of church governance and administration.  They are not cloistered or ignorant to what is happening in the Church and in the world.  They are not in this for the money.  They seem overwhelmingly decent and good.

And nonethless, the narrative being perpetuated is, as you put it, that "{the helpline} exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."  That just seems . . . implausible.

To be sure.  When news items like the AP story are crafting the narrative, and when countervailing evidence is not given time or attention, then "messaging problem{s}" will arise.

Thanks,

-Smac

So, in your opinion, the comments of my friends (all active members) and others reflect not their actual opinions and experiences but a bad-faith intention to find fault. Yikes. 

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19 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

You're certainly reading a lot into what I said. My point was, again, that apparently some bishops have an impression of the help line that is more in line with how the AP described it. None of the people I've talked to have any interest in making the church seem depraved or indifferent. Nor are they trying to find fault. I have no experience with the help line, so I can't say one way or another. That the impression is out there suggests to me at the very least a messaging problem. 

I thought his response was kinda funny. You said the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability." Smac responded that they wouldn't do that because it would result in "increased risks...to legal liability...."

 

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1 minute ago, Analytics said:

I thought his response was kinda funny. You said the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability." Smac responded that they wouldn't do that because it would result in "increased risks...to legal liability...."

 

To be fair, I didn't say that. My former-bishop friends did. I have no reason to believe they were trying to make the church look depraved and indifferent when talking to me. What possible reason would they have to do that? 

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11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

So, in your opinion, the comments of my friends (all active members) and others reflect not their actual opinions and experiences but a bad-faith intention to find fault. Yikes. 

I am saying they are buying into a problematic narrative.

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I thought his response was kinda funny. You said the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability." Smac responded that they wouldn't do that because it would result in "increased risks...to legal liability...."

I don't get the humor.  Could you elaborate?

The narrative is that the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability," and that this is effectuated by encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse.

My point is that the narrative's logic seems flawed because encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse does not "shield the church from legal liability," and is instead more likely to increase such a risk (as well has add to risks of reputational injury).

Thanks,

-Smac

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Just now, smac97 said:

I don't get the humor.  Could you elaborate?

The narrative is that the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability," and that this is effectuated by encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse.

I have never said or implied the part in italics. Nor have my former-bishop friends. 

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9 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I thought his response was kinda funny. You said the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability." Smac responded that they wouldn't do that because it would result in "increased risks...to legal liability...."

If the helpline is telling bishops to not report, then yes, they would be increasing legal liability (this is different, by the way, from telling the bishop that they don't have a requirement to report).  I don't even know how the helpline can "shield the church from legal liability" without actually increasing the liability.  I also don't understand how the helpline is supposed to "shield the church from legal liability".  Hiding crimes does not shield anyone from legal liability.  It makes it worse.

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1 minute ago, jkwilliams said:
Quote

I am saying they are buying into a problematic narrative.

They are speaking based on their own experience.

They may also be speaking in response to the narrative crafted in the AP article.

If so, I think they are buying into a problematic narrative about the helpline, one that is based on a hasty generalization.

1 minute ago, jkwilliams said:

I take them at their word. 

I have no reason to doubt "their word."  But "their word" is their opinions, based on anecdotal and limited information and evidence.

I am in the same boat as they are.  I love the Church and want it to succeed.  I fully subscribe to the statement you attribute to them: "If the system is broken, own it, fix it, and move forward."

The key word there being "if."

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I have never said or implied the part in italics. Nor have my former-bishop friends. 

Could you ask your former-bishop friends how the helpline is supposed to "shield the church from legal liability"?  I am having a hard time seeing how the helpline can actually do that.  I could see feeling like the helpline isn't helping abuse victims, but the shielding liability just doesn't make sense to me.

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Just now, webbles said:

Could you ask your former-bishop friends how the helpline is supposed to "shield the church from legal liability"?  I am having a hard time seeing how the helpline can actually do that.  I could see feeling like the helpline isn't helping abuse victims, but the shielding liability just doesn't make sense to me.

They have just said that when they have called the help line, the emphasis was on making sure the church was legally compliant. To them, it seemed more a legal help line than an abuse help line. 

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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

They may also be speaking in response to the narrative crafted in the AP article.

If so, I think they are buying into a problematic narrative about the helpline, one that is based on a hasty generalization.

I have no reason to doubt "their word."  But "their word" is their opinions, based on anecdotal and limited information and evidence.

I am in the same boat as they are.  I love the Church and want it to succeed.  I fully subscribe to the statement you attribute to them: "If the system is broken, own it, fix it, and move forward."

The key word there being "if."

Thanks,

-Smac

My friends also love the church and want it to succeed. That their opinion differs from your does not mean their opinion is based on a narrative crafted by someone else. Rational adults, as they are, are perfectly capable of formulating their own opinions. 

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3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:
Quote

 

I don't get the humor.  Could you elaborate?

The narrative is that the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability," and that this is effectuated by encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse.

 

I have never said or implied the part in italics.  Nor have my former-bishop friends. 

Okay.  Then how does this "shield the church from legal liability" work?  The helpline shields the Church from liabilityi by ____________________________________?

I am referencing the narrative being advanced in the AP article, which is perhaps best encapsulated in this quote from Craig Vernon:

Quote

“The help line is certainly there to help — to help the church keep its secrets and to cover up abuse,” said Craig Vernon, an Idaho attorney who has filed several sex abuse lawsuits against the church.

See also this part of the article:

Quote

Mormon leaders established the help line in 1995 and it operated not within its Department of Family Services, but instead in its Office of Risk Management, whose role is to protect the church and members from injury and liability in an array of circumstances, including fires, explosions, hazardous chemical spills and severe weather.
...

Risk management also tracks all sex abuse lawsuits against the church, according to a sealed affidavit by Dwayne Liddell, a past director of the department who helped establish the help line. He said members of the church’s First Presidency knew the details of the help line.

“I have been in those type of meetings where ... the training of ecclesiastical leaders (and) the establishment of a help line have been discussed,” Liddell said. When asked who attended the meetings, he answered, “Members of the First Presidency and the presiding bishopric,” or the top leaders of the church.

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

At the time, child sex abuse lawsuits were on the rise and juries were awarding victims millions of dollars. The Mormon church is largely self-insured, leaving it especially vulnerable to costly lawsuits.

“There is nothing inconsistent between identifying cases that may pose litigation risks to the church and complying with reporting obligations,” church lawyers said in a sealed legal filing.

But one affidavit in the sealed records which repeatedly says the church condemns child sexual abuse, also suggests the church is more concerned about the spiritual well-being of perpetrators than the physical and emotional well-being of young victims, who also may be members of the faith.

That is the narrative being advanced.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 minute ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  Then how does this "shield the church from legal liability" work?  The helpline shields the Church from liabilityi by ____________________________________?

I am referencing the narrative being advanced in the AP article, which is perhaps best encapsulated in this quote from Craig Vernon:

See also this part of the article:

That is the narrative being advanced.  

Thanks,

-Smac

And that is not the narrative I nor my friends are advancing. Why do you assume that it is? The impression of my friends is that the help line is about legal compliance, nothing more. It's not about helping with abuse. Nobody (again, neither my friends nor I) has said anything about keeping secrets and covering up abuse. If their impression is incorrect, perhaps the church needs to do a better job explaining to bishops what the purpose is. 

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5 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:
Quote

Could you ask your former-bishop friends how the helpline is supposed to "shield the church from legal liability"?  I am having a hard time seeing how the helpline can actually do that.  I could see feeling like the helpline isn't helping abuse victims, but the shielding liability just doesn't make sense to me.

They have just said that when they have called the help line, the emphasis was on making sure the church was legally compliant.

Lawyers giving legal advice to ensure compliance with the law.

This is problematic . . . how?

5 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

To them, it seemed more a legal help line than an abuse help line. 

That was not my impression or experience.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Lawyers giving legal advice to ensure compliance with the law.

This is problematic . . . how?

That was not my impression or experience.  

Thanks,

-Smac

It's not "problematic," per se. It just seems odd to suggest that the help line is about helping the abused when it's about legal compliance and limiting liability. 

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35 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I don't get the humor.  Could you elaborate?

The narrative is that the helpline primarily exists "to shield the church from legal liability," and that this is effectuated by encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse.

My point is that the narrative's logic seems flawed because encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse does not "shield the church from legal liability," and is instead more likely to increase such a risk (as well has add to risks of reputational injury).

Thanks,

-Smac

I read "the narrative" differently than you do. The way I read it, the AP story and jkwilliams's friends agree that the helpline exists to give bishops legal advice to ensure compliance with the law. By giving (hopefully) good legal advice, they shield the Church from legal liability. Helping victims and/or bringing criminals to justice are secondary considerations--the main objective of the attorneys is to give solid legal advice.

When you read "the narrative" that way, the portion of your argument I was referring to essentially says, "The church's attorneys wouldn't strive to give good legal advice that is intended to shield the Church from legal liability--doing so would expose them to legal liability!"

 

 

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9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

And that is not the narrative I nor my friends are advancing.

You said: "I know this is anecdotal, but I find it interesting that 4 former bishops I know who have had dealings with the help line tell me that, in their experience, it exists to shield the church from legal liability rather than to help abuse victims."

I construed the foregoing this way: "{The narrative is that} the helpline primarily 'exists to shield the church from legal liability,' and that this is effectuated by encouraging bishops to not report allegations of abuse."

You responded: "I have never said or implied the part in italics. Nor have my former-bishop friends."

Fair enough.  I misunderstood.  I apologize.

I request further clarification.  Then how does this "shield the church from legal liability" work?  Liability for what

Also, what evidence is there that the purpose of the helpline is not "to help abuse victims"?

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Why do you assume that it is?

You seemed to be advancing the narrative from the AP article.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

The impression of my friends is that the help line is about legal compliance, nothing more.

What "more" are they expecting?  From the Church's website:

Quote

Bishops and stake presidents should call the help line when addressing situations involving any type of abuse. Legal and clinical professionals will answer their questions. These professionals will also give instructions about how to:

  • Assist victims and help protect them from further abuse.
  • Help protect potential victims.
  • Comply with legal requirements for reporting abuse.

It seems like most of the "help" from the helpline would be legal in nature.  After all, a bishop doesn't need to call the helpline to assist victims of abuse in substantive ways (emergency removal/housing, food, commodities, helping pay for professional counseling, etc.).  Nevertheless, if a bishop needs or wants help from "clinical professionals," it seems those resources are available.

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

It's not about helping with abuse.

I don't think that's correct.  "Helping with abuse" is part of the helpline's mandate.  In any event, I don't understand how bishops are impaired in "helping with abuse" if they don't get it from the helpline.  They already have substantial resources at their disposal.

In my experience, when encountering allegations or instances of abuse, the initial focus was on (A) providing for the immediate needs and safety of the victim/family (having the perp move out, move the victim out, call the police, etc.), and (B) compliance with the law, and later (C) providing ongoing assistance to the victim/family (rent assistance, food, commodities, therapy, ongoing pastoral care and help from the ward, etc.).

I reviewed efforts under (A) with the helpline, but in the main that was already in the works.  The helpline helped with (B) and occasionally offered some input as to (A) and (C).

9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Nobody (again, neither my friends nor I) has said anything about keeping secrets and covering up abuse. If their impression is incorrect, perhaps the church needs to do a better job explaining to bishops what the purpose is. 

If a bishop is thinking something along the lines of "I can't help an abuse victim unless and until I get marching orders from the helpline" then perhaps they need to better review section 38.6.2.7 of the Handbook ("Legal Issues Relating to Abuse"), section 38.6.2.2 ("Counseling in Cases of Abuse"), the "Help for Victims" and "How to Help" and "Prevention and Protection" and "Abuse Helpline" pages of the Church's website, and the various and sundry other resources the Church has provided to help bishops fulfill their duties.

The system can be improved, yes.  And the system clearly failed in this story.  But it is a hasty generalization to suggest that "the system is broken."

Thanks,

-Smac

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27 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

It's not "problematic," per se. It just seems odd to suggest that the help line is about helping the abused when it's about legal compliance and limiting liability. 

The helpline is, I think, mostly about legal issues.  However, "clinical professionals" are available through it where needed.

In the main, I'm not sure bishops need help from the helpline relative to providing assistance in the form of pastoral care, assistance with housing/food/commodities, emergent circumstances, assistance with professional counseling, etc.  Most of this is bread-and-butter stuff for a bishop.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

  The handbook is there.  The guidelines are there.  The helpline is there.  The "line of authority" is there.  Seems like bishops are both "trained" and "equipped."

No, not really. They are not trained in human behavior. Reactions to trauma. They can do great harm. They can easily make the wrong call. Like this Bishop did in this case. And the next Bishop. That shows a lack of training or the wrong training. There are few men on this board I would trust to deal with a teen rape victim. They must have heard from the helpline, they didn’t have to report, so they didn’t. Bad call. I would prefer a policy of unless it is against state law, they must report. 
 

If a wife can report her husband, the Bishops need to get on board and report all abuse. Bishops should understand their default is to be a mandatory reporter. It is the job of experts, to investigate claims.
 

I have a friend who served as a branch president and is now a Bishop. First time lots of training and a responsive SP. 

No training this time around. 

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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But it is a hasty generalization to suggest that "the system is broken."

It's also a hasty generalization to say that anyone whose experience leads them to believe the system is broken (whatever that means) is a fault-finder buying into an attack narrative. I really don't understand this us vs. them attitude. It's OK for church members to disagree on how well the church is doing on certain issues. Expressing reservations about a church policy is not a full-throated attack on the church as depraved and indifferent. Maybe if we lose the hyperbole, we might actually have reasonable conversations about what, to me, is a serious issue worthy of open discussion.

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13 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I read "the narrative" differently than you do. The way I read it, the AP story and jkwilliams's friends agree that the helpline exists to give bishops legal advice to ensure compliance with the law.

 The AP article quotes the oh-so-impartial-and-clinical Craig Vernon:

Quote

“The help line is certainly there to help — to help the church keep its secrets and to cover up abuse,” said Craig Vernon, an Idaho attorney who has filed several sex abuse lawsuits against the church.

Also this:

Quote

Mormon leaders established the help line in 1995 and it operated not within its Department of Family Services, but instead in its Office of Risk Management, whose role is to protect the church and members from injury and liability in an array of circumstances, including fires, explosions, hazardous chemical spills and severe weather.
...

But one affidavit ... suggests the church is more concerned about the spiritual well-being of perpetrators than the physical and emotional well-being of young victims, who also may be members of the faith.

“Disciplinary proceedings are subject to the highest confidentiality possible,” said Rytting. “If members had any concerns that their disciplinary files could be read by a secular judge or attorneys or be presented to a jury as evidence in a public trial, their willingness to confess and repent and for their souls to be saved would be seriously compromised.”

This seems quite a bit more condemnatory than "the helpline exists to give bishops legal advice to ensure compliance with the law."

13 minutes ago, Analytics said:

By giving (hopefully) good legal advice, they shield the Church from legal liability.

I agree.  As the Church's lawyer's aptly noted: "There is nothing inconsistent between identifying cases that may pose litigation risks to the church and complying with reporting obligations."

And yet the narrative in the AP immediately juxtaposes the foregoing with characterizing an affidavit as stating that "the church is more concerned about the spiritual well-being of perpetrators than the physical and emotional well-being of young victims."  And this is on top of Vernon's "cover up abuse" accusation.

13 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Helping victims and/or bringing criminals to justice are secondary considerations--the main objective of the attorneys is to give solid legal advice.

This is a false dilemma.  The Church's efforts overall are focused overwhelmingly on "helping victims."  The helpline's attorneys are there to give legal advice to bishops who are already situated to help victims.  And there are "clinical professionals" available through the helpline if needed.

As for "bringing criminals to justice," I'm actually sort of in agreement with you.  That is a "secondary consideration."  The Church is not in the business of law enforcement or criminal justice.

Thanks,

-Smac

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