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Lawsuit: Utah firm and lawmaker helped Mormons hide abuse


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I haven’t followed the case but had a similar reaction when reading the article. It was also a little confusing to follow. At one point they were mentioning social workers having a duty to warn. That is the case. All therapists do. But I was confused by the statements around this where there’s sworn statements that say the help line had therapists answering. But that this case had only lawyers answering. Last time I checked lawyers make crap therapists and therapists aren’t great lawyers either. So why are cases then given directly to lawyers? How is that decided? there’s not a clear connection between the two in this article, but I’m assuming there’s a mechanism that takes this to legal or the LDSFS. 

I can see why they’re pulling in individuals more into the case now. It seems to me the case to the church as an entity may be weaker…but there may be more of a case to individual attorneys giving incomplete or misleading advice. Advice that if these bishops hadn’t received they may have reported the abuse. There just seems to be pieces missing that may bolster the case or weaken it depending. 
 

but I’m no lawyer and I don’t know enough about the case to mesh this with other details that have been made public. 
 

with luv, 

BD 
 

 

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2 hours ago, Teancum said:

The "more issues" is a request to add parties to the suit: Merrill Nelson (apparently the attorney who took the helpline call from Bishop Herrod) and Kirton & McConkie (the law firm where Nelson was working at the time).

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

I am interested in @smac97take on this.  Not being a legal expert I am not sure about all this but I think it seems a stretch. 

Yeah.  I think it's going to be hard to formulate a legal theory which creates liability for an attorney giving legal advice (or liability for his law firm).  So it seems like this is mostly an exercise in stirring the publicity pot by the plaintiffs' attorneys and continued muckraking by the investigative reporters.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Does anyone think the Church and Kirton and McConkie will settle this out of court?

I started a thread on this topic back in August: (3rd) Update on Arizona Abuse Case

I was initially perplexed by the interplay between A) the language of the statute (which, candidly, could be improved and clarified) and B) the "facts" as reported by the journalist (Michael Rezendes) relative to what the bishops and the Church knew and did not know about the abuse, and also about the helpline attorney's purported advice to the bishops.

Perhaps the crux of the confusion was the hearing testimony of Robert Edwards, the ICE Special Agent who interviewed Bishop Herrod.  I think Rezendes heavily relied on this testimony to impute misconduct on the Church and the helpline attorneys.  From my summary back in August:

Quote

MormonLeaks has uploaded what I think is a transcript of the above-referenced 2018 hearing.  The relevant stuff starts on page 41 of the pdf.  Some notes:

  • Agent Edwards got Herrod's contact information from Shaunice Warr, who was A) a member of the ward and B) also a Border Patrol Agent and C) a friend of the family and D) who had suspected abuse for years but not reported it (see here).
  • Warr had given Herrod a heads-up that Edwards would be talking with him.  This was probably unwise of her.
  • Edwards states that Herrod characterized the Adams as "described by many in the congregation as being off and weird," that "{t}here was no indication of any sexual abuse from any of the church members," but that "they all had a feeling something was off."  This is . . . weak stuff.  We have A) Edwards testifying about B) statements from Herrod about C) generalized perceptions of "the congregation."  This is way deep into hearsay territory and, given the circumstances, way problematic in terms of probative weight versus prejudicial effect.
  • Edwards goes on to state: "{Herrod said that during} one of these sessions, Paul Adams admitted to Mr. Herrod that he had been sexually assaulting his oldest daughter."  Again, massive hearsay problems.  We have A) Edwards testifying about B) statements from Herrod about C) statements from Paul Adams.
  • More from Edwards: "Once Mr. Herrod heard this, he {} brought Leizza Adams into the same counseling session, so there were three of them in the counseling session at this point, and then Mr. Herrod had Paul turn and explain to Leizza exactly what he had just told him, to which Paul did, he explained his sexual molestation of {his oldest daughter} to Leizza Adams in that counseling session."  Ongoing hearsay problems.  Also, I'm not sure if Leizza's presence in the session eliminated the privilege.
  • Per Edwards, Herrod said that the foregoing disclosure as taking place "beteween 2011, 2012 ... on the tail end of his tenure in Bisbee as a Bishop."
  • Per Edwards, Herrod also stated that during this session "Paul Adams explained ... {that he} was visually -- he was taking video of {the abuse, and had} done it numerous times."
  • Per Edwards, Herrod also said that "{h}e brought Leizza Adams into the room because he wanted ... the children to be safe, and he thought if ... Paul Adams told Leizza Adams while Bishop Herrod was observing, that Leizza would either remove the children from the situation or at least, very least, keep the kids away from Paul."  
  • Per Edwards, Herrod also said that he "did not consider {calling the police}" about the abuse, that he gave Leizza Adams "the option of having Paul Adams turn himself in," and that she "responded that she will just do her best to keep the children away from Paul," but that she did not succeed at doing this, and that "{t}he counseling sessions continued with Paul Adams, to which Paul continued to explain that he was sexually assaulting his oldest daughter," and that these sessions took place "over years."
  • Per Edwards, Herrod also said that during these continuing sessions, during which Paul Adams continued to admit to abusing his daughter, that he (Herrod) "{brought} Leizza Adams in again" numerous times," so that she "heard" Paul Adams' confessions of ongoing abuse.  He said he did this "hoping that Leizza Adams would fix the situation, that Leizza Adams  would leave the house with the children, thus not letting them being the victim of sexual assault, continued sexual assault."
  • Per Edwards Herrod also said that he "called Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and asked for legal advice as to what to do," that he was told to "continue counseling sessions, and that there's no duty to report to authorities due to the clergy-penitent privilege."   

Lots of hearsay problems, but that aside, the foregoing testimony is difficult to square with the "limited confession ... about a single past incident of abuse" characterization in the Church's news release. 

As it turns out, Edwards' testimony (the most damning parts of which were his characterization of Herrod's interview responses) was, it seems, very inaccurate.  See here:

Quote

Webbles is using Herrod’s own testimony, the transcript of the interview, not Edwards’ report of it.

Here is the link again:

https://www.mormondialogue.org/applications/core/interface/file/attachment.php?id=5923&key=b3947fe1d75278c7435135f9a1bbda61707.41 kB · 13 downloads

And here (me responding to Helix) :

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Quote

Agent Edwards's testimony related to what Herrod told him is completely wrong.  Edwards contradicts what is found in his own interview with Herrod.  Herrod said no such thing, at all, in the interview.  Edwards's recollection got key basic facts wrong. 

I'm starting to see that.

Edwards as a substantively unreliable narrator.  I had not anticipated that.  

Quote

When you look at the transcript of Edwards's interview with Herrod, Herrod's deposition, Mauzy's deposition, Leizza's testimony, and Warr's testimony, then a constant and clear pattern emerges.  Paul confessed at one meeting, and only one, and never spoke of it again to either bishop at least through when he was arrested. 

That is not at all what Edwards testified to during the hearing.

 

Quote

Herrod thought the problem was avoided afterward by Leizza because that {Adams} was rarely at home and Leizza never let him be alone with the kids. 

Also, in that one confessional meeting, the most consistent answer with the first hand sources was the confession referred to one past incident, but more than one past incident in the confession is a possibility.

I will need to review the entirety of the transcripts.

And here (comments from Helix) :

Quote
Quote

I will need to review the entirety of the transcripts.

They're long.  But I found it helpful to go over the list I provided.  Herrods interview, Herrod's deposition, Mauzy's deposition, Warr's testimony, and Leizza's testimony, when read closely, are illuminating.  The ward clerk's testimony isn't that interesting except for when he says he didn't know there was sex abuse in the family (but it is interesting if you like to see two lawyers who don't like each other quarrel constantly). 

Note that I haven't seen Leizza's testimony publicly posted yet available yet.  Webbles grabbed for us the agent's interview with Herrod, which I think it was exhibit 9.  Leizza's testimony was exhibit 8. 

And then there's the bizarre deposition of that Reynolds lady.  

I suspect the wheels are coming off the case, evidence-wise.  A terrible thing happened, but if there were some misconduct by the bishop (in failing to report), I don't think we'd be seeing gross mischaracterizations by the ICE Agent (who, I should note, is totally immune from any sort of liability for such mischaracterizations), by Reynolds, etc.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

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44 minutes ago, smac97 said:

My experience with the helpline has been that the bishop first speaks with someone other than an attorney, who goes through a sort of "screening / in-take" procedure to get the basic facts from the bishop (the name/ward of the bishop, the .  I don't believe these helpline people represent themselves as being "therapists" or as functioning in that capacity.  However, I suspect most of them have training or some background/experience in social work / psychology, etc.  

 

This is what I was told how the helpline was intended to be structured by someone involved in Family Services, so I assume it was personal knowledge of his.  Iirc, that was probably around 2005 or 2006….intake personnel were to be trained social workers, they would then forward the calls to the appropriate lawyer for legal advice.

Quote

One possible reason for them to be licensed therapists is so that they can be involved in the process and still be covered by privilege (therapist/patient, rather than attorney/client).  

But the Bishop is not asking advice about their own issues, so how could that be privileged?  Wouldn’t the intake workers be covered just as a receptionist at a law firm who does intake for their boss would be or isn’t the initial phone call covered? (If it isn’t, all those old Perry Mason shows should have had the cop grilling Della about who the client was instead of trying to push Perry into dropping tidbits).

Edited by Calm
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One of my first "armchair lawyer" thoughts on this was to wonder if making these parties an official part of the lawsuit makes it easier (or even possible) to get them into the courtroom. It would seem to me that, in order to show that this is part of a conspiracy to cover up this incidence of abuse (and maybe abuse in general), the prosecution needs more testimony about how the help-line works. So much about the help-line is privileged and confidential that I wonder if part of the legal strategy here is to force the church and/or Kirton-McConkie to reveal some of this privileged, confidential information. @smac97 or anyone else with legal expertise, what do you think?

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2 hours ago, MrShorty said:

One of my first "armchair lawyer" thoughts on this was to wonder if making these parties an official part of the lawsuit makes it easier (or even possible) to get them into the courtroom. It would seem to me that, in order to show that this is part of a conspiracy to cover up this incidence of abuse (and maybe abuse in general), the prosecution needs more testimony about how the help-line works. So much about the help-line is privileged and confidential that I wonder if part of the legal strategy here is to force the church and/or Kirton-McConkie to reveal some of this privileged, confidential information. @smac97 or anyone else with legal expertise, what do you think?

The likelihood of a court compelling an attorney to testify as to his privileged communications with his clients is . . . pretty low.

As for "how the help-line works," I'm not sure that is much in dispute.  Rather, the question here is what information did Bishop Herrod give to the attorney, and what legal advice did the attorney give in response.  The chances of the court letting these questions be aired in a deposition is also very low.

I don't see this as much of a "legal strategy" as much as a publicity effort.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, Calm said:

This is what I was told how the helpline was intended to be structured by someone involved in Family Services, so I assume it was personal knowledge of his.  Iirc, that was probably around 2005 or 2006….intake personnel were to be trained social workers, they would then forward the calls to the appropriate lawyer for legal advice.

That sort of makes sense.  I wonder if they are functioning as "paralegals" rather than "social workers."  I suspect the former, as they are screening calls intended for a lawyer.

2 hours ago, Calm said:
Quote

One possible reason for them to be licensed therapists is so that they can be involved in the process and still be covered by privilege (therapist/patient, rather than attorney/client).  

But the Bishop is not asking advice about their own issues, so how could that be privileged?  

Because the bishop is looking for, and receiving, legal advice.  That the "issues" are not his own is immaterial.

2 hours ago, Calm said:

Wouldn’t the intake workers be covered just as a receptionist at a law firm who does intake for their boss would be or isn’t the initial phone call covered? (If it isn’t, all those old Perry Mason shows should have had the cop grilling Della about who the client was instead of trying to push Perry into dropping tidbits).

Yes, I think they would be covered.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

wonder if they are functioning as "paralegals" rather than "social workers."  I suspect the former, as they are screening calls intended for a lawyer.

My acquaintance (met him at a faculty dinner) was also presenting it as the intake workers providing information about appropriate local support services, but that may have not been viable to keep up to date given the variety of social services provided and possible high turnover with smaller, local charities.  I haven’t heard about this happening from anyone who has used it.

This is from the OP:

Quote

 

“[The hotline] is intended and always has from the beginning been intended to to help victims get the help they need through social services, professional counseling, medical help, legal help, law enforcement,” Nelson said.

That sounds like recommendations for social services may be given as well, but perhaps the bishops I have talked to about it haven’t asked or needed the info.

Edited by Calm
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52 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Because the bishop is looking for, and receiving, legal advice.  That the "issues" are not his own is immaterial.

I was thinking about them being covered as therapists, giving out therapeutic advice or references in response to this comment:

Quote

One possible reason for them to be licensed therapists is so that they can be involved in the process and still be covered by privilege (therapist/patient, rather than attorney/client).  

Maybe Bluedreams can tell us if someone asks a therapist for advice for a friend or acquaintance, such as a recommendation or advice on whether someone needs counseling or not, if this is considered privleged communication.

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, JustAnAustralian said:

When did the timeline change from him confessing in 2011 to him confessing in 2010?

 

2019 it was “around 2011”

https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2019/12/11/mormon-officials-in-bisbee-being-investigated-for-not-reporting-child-sex-abuse/

church news has it in late 2011 in Aug; I am assuming they pulled off of hotline records…whatever minimal records they keep.

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders/2022/8/17/23310912/deseret-news-church-releases-details-timeline-about-arizona-sex-abuse-case-second-statement

TruthandTransparency had it as sometime in 2010 or 2011.

https://www.truthandtransparency.org/news/2020/01/30/court-documents-reveal-mormon-bishops-failure-to-report-led-to-continued-abuse-and-an-additional-victim/index.html

Warr testified she didn’t know the year the confession took place (the mother had informed her of it after rereading one of her own journals), but the Court pulls from the mother’s testimony that it was 2010.

Quote

All right. The presentence report
contains a lengthy statement from Leizza Adams. And I believe she attributes that act, or at least the conversation with the bishop, to 2010. Do you have any way of indicating that that's correct? Incorrect? Or anything else to help us pinpoint the date?
THE WITNESS: I moved here in 2011. And it was before I moved here. And I mean that would make sense because the bishop that was the bishop who told her was released right before I got here in 2011, so that would make sense. 2010 would make sense.
THE COURT: 2010 would make sense?

https://mormonleaks.io/wiki/documents/e/eb/2018-06-07-STATE_OF_ARIZONA_vs_LEIZZA_ADAMS-REPORTERS_TRANSCRIPT_OF_PROCEEDINGS_MITIGATION_HEARING_and_SENTENCING-PART_ONE.pdf

So my guess is there may be a conflict between the hotline account and the mother’s memory.  I would depend on the hotline as the mother’s comments were not reliable, in my view (unintentionally and intentionally inaccurate).

Added:  now I am wondering because it appears the plaintiffs have the hotline records, so not solely depending on the mother’s testimony. I wonder if the Church News depended on news reports rather than records.

Quote

The records — two pages from a log of calls fielded by a law firm representing the church and the deposition of a church official — show that Utah Republican State Rep. Merrill F. Nelson took the initial call from a bishop reporting that church member Paul Adams had sexually abused his daughters. Nelson also had multiple conversations over a two-year span with two bishops who knew of the abuse, the records show.

From the article linked in the OP.

Have those records been publicly released or still confidential?  I am assuming the reporter has them along with many other records if I recall the story correctly.

And added again…I need to finish reading before I post:

Quote

The log of calls filed in the Arizona Court of Appeals shows that Nelson spoke with Herrod and Mauzy multiple times from November of 2011 to February of 2014, a period during which Adams was excommunicated. Mauzy presided over a 2013 church disciplinary process after which Adams was expelled.

The hotline does confirm the 2011 date.  So unless the bishop waited almost a year at least before calling the hotline or they are missing records, the confession took place in 2011 and the 2010 date is likely depending on the mom’s memory like I originally thought.

Edited by Calm
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54 minutes ago, Calm said:

I was thinking about them being covered as therapists, giving out therapeutic advice or references in response to this comment:

Maybe Bluedreams can tell us if someone asks a therapist for advice for a friend or acquaintance, such as a recommendation or advice on whether someone needs counseling or not, if this is considered privleged communication.

If they are functioning under the auspices of the attorney/client privilege (rather than a therapist/patient privilege), then that makes sense.  I don't see how a bishop talking to a social worker creates a therapist/patient relationship between the two.

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 hours ago, Calm said:

Maybe Bluedreams can tell us if someone asks a therapist for advice for a friend or acquaintance, such as a recommendation or advice on whether someone needs counseling or not, if this is considered privleged communication.

If this is in a therapy setting, absolutely. If this were more casual in relationship, most would still err on the side of maintaining confidence even if it wasn’t strictly contracted…it’s still ethically more sound. I would assume the same with screening calls. Confidentiality and care for sensitive information would likely still be expected, it may just not the same legal ramifications compared to a therapist who could have licensing concerns come up. 
 

personally I’ve talked to bishops about clients, members of their congregation, and personal connections they want advice with or referrals for. I treat all of these circumstances the same in terms of keeping the information I’m given confidential and secure. 
 

 With luv, 

BD 

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18 hours ago, Calm said:

I was thinking about them being covered as therapists, giving out therapeutic advice or references in response to this comment:

Quote

One possible reason for them to be licensed therapists is so that they can be involved in the process and still be covered by privilege (therapist/patient, rather than attorney/client).  

Maybe Bluedreams can tell us if someone asks a therapist for advice for a friend or acquaintance, such as a recommendation or advice on whether someone needs counseling or not, if this is considered privleged communication.

I don't think the helpline would count as establishing a therapist/client relationship (which is a necessary prerequisite to asserting the therapist/client privilege) because the "client" is a bishop who is not seeking therapy, but is instead seeking legal advice.  The screeners may nevertheless be useful in providing guidance as to resources and such for the bishop to pass on.

Thanks,

-Smac

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22 hours ago, JustAnAustralian said:

When did the timeline change from him confessing in 2011 to him confessing in 2010?

I had noticed this too. 

The AP journalist is lazy. He gets dates and key facts wrong in every update he makes to this story.  The confession date is late 2011.

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52 minutes ago, helix said:

I had noticed this too. 

The AP journalist is lazy. He gets dates and key facts wrong in every update he makes to this story.  The confession date is late 2011.

I would think that with his research that he would know the bishop would call the hotline right away and therefore choose to depend on those records rather than the mother’s memory…though Warr’s testimony, which just used years and not months, also gives the impression it was 2010 because she says it happened before she moved in and she moved into the ward in 2011…though her reconstruction is off as well.  She had to have had the first bishop as a bishop for awhile since all sources says he was released in 2012.  I can’t figure out why she is so certain the confession came before except apparently she doesn’t remember having the first bishop as her bishop, but just as her fellow ward member at the beginning of her attending that ward, so that would require the confession to be before she came if her memory was accurate. Unfortunately it appears not to be.

I am not surprised that the plaintiffs’ attorney pushes for the earlier the date because from their POV, the longer the time from the confession to the arrest, the worse it looks for the Church if an agent of the Church is deemed responsible for the abuse in someone’s mind. 

Edited by Calm
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16 hours ago, Calm said:

I would think that with his research that he would know the bishop would call the hotline right away and therefore choose to depend on those records

Even when the AP journalist's story was the hotline records, he still got dates wrong.  He stated in that artcle: "The log of calls filed in the Arizona Court of Appeals shows that Nelson spoke with Herrod and Mauzy multiple times from November of 2011 to February of 2014".  But phone calls do not end in 2014.  The phone calls stopped July 2013. 

You stated "his research".  I'm not trying to be cynical.  I really don't think he does research.  He just repeats what others tell him without double checking, and his articles are full of errors.  Rezendes is a surprisingly lazy and sloppy journalist. 

Edited by helix
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On 10/13/2022 at 3:07 PM, Calm said:

I was thinking about them being covered as therapists, giving out therapeutic advice or references in response to this comment:

Maybe Bluedreams can tell us if someone asks a therapist for advice for a friend or acquaintance, such as a recommendation or advice on whether someone needs counseling or not, if this is considered privleged communication.

When I was a bishop I often spoke with therapists even in some cases a kind of "team" approach- and yes of course it was totally confidential.  I had some personal success when I underwent counseling during some very difficult events in my life, and always found it benefical, so in a sense I already had an idea of how these things worked, but we always had hotlines and legal advice available as well.  Besides, counselors keep their discussions confidential even with what they are willing to discuss with bishops, because of course bishops are not trained professionals in this area- we are at best amateur "first aid" people with our bandaids and Neosporin and no good therapist is going to trust us with the deep deep stuff, but just give us general social advice about what the patient needs.   They know what they are doing and can in effect train us a little bit about the best way to help them- at least that was the impression I had.

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7 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

When I was a bishop I often spoke with therapists even in some cases a kind of "team" approach- and yes of course it was totally confidential.  I had some personal success when I underwent counseling during some very difficult events in my life, and always found it benefical, so in a sense I already had an idea of how these things worked, but we always had hotlines and legal advice available as well.  Besides, counselors keep their discussions confidential even with what they are willing to discuss with bishops, because of course bishops are not trained professionals in this area- we are at best amateur "first aid" people with our bandaids and Neosporin and no good therapist is going to trust us with the deep deep stuff, but just give us general social advice about what the patient needs.   They know what they are doing and can in effect train us a little bit about the best way to help them- at least that was the impression I had.

You’re not wrong. I would say I personally see bishops as access points to something I can’t give them: forms of longer term social support. That’s a potent tool that can be deployed and I can help give ideas as to what may be helpful for them or given enough understanding (with client’s permission) of their experiences to foster greater empathy and compassion when they’re helping clients spiritually in one way or another. 
 

with luv, 

BD

Edited by BlueDreams
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