Mormon Sexual Predators
US sex abuse suit says Scout, church leaders were warned repeatedly about perpetrator
By Tim Fought (CP)
February 16, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Scouts leader in Portland, Oregon, subjected a boy to hundreds of instances of fondling, sodomy, oral sex and masturbation in the 1980s, even though Scout and Mormon Church leaders had been warned for years that the man was an abuser, a suit filed Tuesday alleges.
In all, the suit says, there were 14 reports of sexual abuse or inappropriate behaviour on the part of the man before the boy joined a Cub Scout den in 1981.
The suit seeking $5.2 million from the Scouts was filed by Portland lawyers Kelly Clark and Paul Mones, who won a major abuse suit against the Scouts last year and have continued to file similar suits.
The victim, Clark said, is a member of the armed forces, in his mid-30s who is "emotionally shut down" and trying to come to terms with the abuse, Clark said. He has a history of troubles with relationships and authorities, Clark said.
The abuse lasted eight years, according to the suit. The victim's brother was also abused, the suit said. Clark said at a press conference that "the other family member" was healing emotionally and didn't sue, Clark said.
Clark said church leaders who sponsored Scout troops were warned as early as 1967, in California, when the perpetrator, identified in the suit as James Hogan, was reported by parents to have fondled their son and showered naked with Scouts.
The reports continued after Hogan moved to Portland that year, the suit said. In 1975, it said, Hogan told a bishop in the church "that he had pedophilic attractions which he could not control."
"I can't think of a case where there was so much notice of a man's dangerousness," Clark said at a news conference.
A man who answered the phone listed in public records as belonging to a James F. Hogan in Portland said he "might be" the man named in the lawsuit but had not seen the suit.
He said he is 73, suffering from memory deterioration and could not remember sexually abusing Boy Scouts. He did recall, though, that "back in the '80s and early '90s I was court-mandated to take a ... court-approved therapy, and I successfully completed that, with probation and such."
"If I have caused someone difficulty, or pain, or anguish, I'm terribly sorry about that," Hogan said. "I wasn't living in reality."
Clark said the Mormon church, which sponsored Scout groups, has settled on sealed terms. A Portland lawyer for the church, Steve English, confirmed there had been a settlement. The church, he said, condemns abuse and "where possible tries to resolve cases to end the victim's suffering."
The Boy Scouts of America released a statement that did not address the suit's allegations. It condemned abuse and said the organization "has continued to develop and enhance efforts to protect youth ..."
Clark said the victim has rejected talk of settling with the Scouts because "he wants to get the word out so that others don't have to suffer in secret."
Livermore woman faces 67 charges related to sex with two teenage boys.
By Sophia Kazmi
Contra Costa Times
LIVERMORE -- A Livermore woman faces 67 criminal charges for allegedly having sex with two teen boys.
Police arrested Christine Shreeve Hubbs, 42, on Thursday evening on a warrant. She is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $4.3 million bail.
The mother of one of the boys went to Livermore police on July 27 to report she found a nude photo of Hubbs on her son's cell phone, according to court records. The boy told police the sex acts with Hubbs began in December 2008, when he was 14.
He told police he met with Hubbs multiple times for sex acts and twice went with her to a hotel to have sex with her. The boy said the relationship continued until January 2010.
During the investigation, police learned of a second boy, who is now 14, who said he had a sexual relationship with Hubbs from December 2009 through July.
Investigators say Hubbs communicated with the teens by text messages and at times used her cell phone to send sexual messages and nude pictures of herself.
According to court records, the boys said she gave them gifts, mostly gift cards, and money, and drove them in her black, 2006 Hummer to various locations in Livermore and elsewhere in Alameda County to engage in sexual activity.
Hubbs learned of the investigation and retained a lawyer, Sarsfield said. Police have not yet interviewed her.
She is scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon at the Gale/Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton.
Police do not have any evidence pointing to additional victims, Sarsfield said. Police ask anyone with information to call the department's detective's bureau at 925-371-4700.
In a separate case, Hubbs was also charged on Thursday with four counts of contributing to the deliquency of a minor and one count of discharge of a BB gun, Those charges relate to a June 29 incident when a bicyclist reported being shot by an Airsoft projectile by boys in a black Hummer.The biker recognized Hubbs as the driver from her personalized license plate.
Hubbs told police she was driving and heard the boys pulling the gun triggers as she drove through town. The boys in the car admitted to the shooting but said Hubbs did not try to stop them.They said she had bought them the guns.
Christine Shreeve Hubbs was the all American girl. She was beautiful, a Mormon, and looked much younger than her 42 years.
Hubbs lived in a sprawling home in an upscale section of Livermore, California, about an hour southeast of San Francisco. She had three beautiful children. By all accounts, her husband was a well-respected dentist with a thriving business.
Christine Shreeve Hubbs was well known and liked in her community. She was known as the “Hummer mom,” because she often gave neighborhood kids rides in her 2006 black Hummer. But police say a dark secret was underneath that perfect image.
Hubbs was arrested last week and is being charged with 67 felony counts of sexual assault, including oral copulation, lewd act on a child, and exhibition of lewd material to a minor. They say she had a sexual relationship with two boys under 15.
She is in custody in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on $4.3 million bail.
Hubbs is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.
A friend of one of the victims' families told KGO-TV that Hubbs often dressed like a teenager and was a neighborhood fixture who was known for giving rides to neighborhood kids in her Hummer
Police said she had sex with the boys in the Hummer and at various locations in Livermore and in Alameda County. One boy told police he met with Hubbs multiple times for sex and had sex with her twice in hotel rooms, according to the Contra Costa Times.
She regularly gave the boys Visa gift cards and video game consoles, police said.
Police have been investigating the case since getting a tip on July 27.
Hubbs' Facebook page says that she lives in Livermore with her dentist husband and has been married for 20 years. She wrote that she has three “beautiful kids” aged 13, 10, and 8.
Hubbs’ family is declining to talk to the press, requesting privacy. KPIX-TV reports that neighbors say that Hubbs is a "Mormon mom," who acts like a teenager. She goes by the name, "Chrissy."
According to the Contra Costa Times, the parent of one of the boys went to police on July 27 after finding a nude photo of Hubbs on the boy's cell phone. The boy said he first began having sex with Hubbs in December 2008 when he was 14. During their investigation, police say they learned of a second victim who is now 14, who began having sex with Hubbs in December 2009 and it continued through last month.
Livermore Police say they don't know of any additional victims and are asking anyone with information to call them at 925-371-4700.
Hubbs’ husband, Tim Hubbs, runs Vineyard Hills Dental Care.
KPIX reports that Mrs. Hubbs sent topless photos of herself to the boys to show off her breast implants.
Hubbs retained a lawyer before she was arrested when she knew she was being investigated. Police say she is not talking to them. Livermore police also said that Hubbs' husband, Tim, at first was cooperative with investigators but is also now declining to talk to police.
The Contra Costa Times reports that in a separate case, Hubbs is being charged with four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of discharge of a BB gun.
On June 29, police say a bicyclist reported being shot by an Airsoft projectile by boys from Hubbs’ black Hummer.
The boys admitted to the shooting but said that Hubbs bought the guns for them and didn’t try to stop them, the Contra Costa Times reports. KPIX reports that those boys were 10 years old.
Livermore Police's press release on the Christine Shreeve Hubbs case here, along with a photo of her that police released.
Ousted LDS leader dies
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
and Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated Jul 30, 2010 02:21PM
George P. Lee once enjoyed such widespread respect as the first and only American Indian LDS general authority that many Mormons believed he someday might become an apostle or even higher.
But such talk ended in 1989, when Lee, who died this week at age 67, was excommunicated for “heresy” and “conduct unbecoming a member of the church.” Later, he admitted to attempted child sex abuse, and his wife divorced him.
“George P. Lee is one of the truly tragic figures in modern Mormon history,” Armand Mauss, an LDS sociologist in Irvine, Calif., said Thursday. He was “both created and destroyed” by changing Mormon teachings and policies regarding native peoples.
Lee died Wednesday at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo after a long battle with many physical ailments.
“We offer our condolences to his family,” LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Thursday. “We have tried to stay close to him and his family over the years, and we pray for the Lord’s blessings to be upon them at this tender time.”
Lee left his home in the Four Corners area at age 12 to move to Orem, where he lived with a Mormon family as one of the first Navajos in the LDS Church’s Indian Placement Program. He was studious and gregarious, excelling at academics, sports and student government. After high school, he served as a Mormon missionary in the Southwest Indian Mission, where he later would return as mission president.
Lee was the first American Indian to earn a doctorate from LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University and later served in Arizona as president of the College of Ganado and principal at Tuba City High.
Meanwhile, Lee rose in the ranks of the LDS hierarchy. He was named to the church’s First Quorum of Seventy in 1975 at age 32 and served in that body until 1989, when he was excommunicated.
It marked the first — and last — time that a Mormon general authority was excommunicated since apostle Richard Lyman’s ouster in 1943.
Unbowed and angry, Lee claimed the disciplinary action by then-President Ezra Taft Benson was triggered by his opposition to the faith’s shifting approach to its Indian members.
Mauss, author of All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage , sees some truth to that.
Lee grew to maturity during decades when the LDS Church launched a comprehensive campaign of education and economic development to “redeem” North America’s Lamanites, who had so tragically languished under both U.S. and Canadian “Indian” policies throughout the 20th century.
Mauss said Lee took seriously the perspective espoused by then-President Spencer W. Kimball that the Lamanites, a Book of Mormon term used to describe many Native American peoples, would become leaders in building Zion.
Benson succeeded Kimball in 1985 and later discontinued the placement program, shifting the church’s emphasis from North to South American indigenous members.
“It was Elder Lee’s resistance to this change,” Mauss wrote in an e-mail, “and his continuing claim to special leadership responsibilities for himself and his people, that brought him into increasing conflict with his colleagues among the general authorities.”
After losing his church position, Lee ran for president of the Navajo Nation in 1990 and 1994, falling short in the primary both times.
In October 1994, accused of exploiting his position of trust as a church leader several years earlier, he pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse of a child, admitting that he fondled a 12-year-old family friend. The girl testified that Lee molested her while telling her that polygamy would be “brought back to Earth, and we would be asked to live it.”
“Brother Lee told me he had fallen in love with me,” she said, “ … and that the Lord said it was OK.”
Lee was sentenced to probation and ordered to undergo counseling. In 2009, he was picked up by police in St. George for not registering as a sex offender.
Still, Navajos remember Lee fondly as one of those who paved the way for later generations of tribal members seeking advanced education, said George Hardeen, spokesman for the Navajo Nation.
“Thousands of Navajos are graduating from college now and hundreds are going on to master’s degrees and doctorates,” Hardeen said. “Doctor Lee was one of those who led the way.”
Lee, a father of seven children, is perhaps best known in the Tuba City area, where he was a high school principal in the 1980s, Hardeen said.
“He moved off [the reservation], he lived in Salt Lake, but he never forgot that he was a five-fingered person with his four principal clans that identified him as a unique Navajo individual,” Hardeen said. “Even though he did other things with education and his faith, he always remained a Navajo.”
Despite his fall from grace, Lee’s rise in the LDS Church remains a point of pride among Navajos, Hardeen said. “The Navajo people are a forgiving people. He will be remembered for the good things that he did.”
And the church he once served has opened its doors for his funeral.
42 charges in Mohler sex-abuse case
Friday, November 20, 2009
That's after authorities filed 11 more charges in the case on Thursday, Don Bradley reports. Today's report has more about the allegations:
The alleged abuse occurred from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, when the sisters ranged in age from 5 to mid-teens. The case broke when one went to police in August. Her siblings have since supported her version of events.
They told investigators they remembered being taken from location to location for photographs on beds with naked men and in provocative poses. In 1988, several of the sisters ran away to flee the abuse, but they later returned home. As punishment, their father, Burrell Mohler Jr., allegedly made them watch him sodomize another sibling.
Investigators also seized several dozen videotapes from one Mohler son's house in Columbia, though until they actually tell us what's on the tapes, I'm not sure how big a deal that is.
Also -- Fox 4 contacted a former church leader who says he heard about the allegations years ago.
A former Mormon Bishop in Independence, Mo., said during the time of the alleged abuse, the wife of Burrel Mohler Jr. told him several times she feared Mohler Jr. was abusing their children.
... Bishop Paul Tonga headed the Mormon church at the time Mohler Jr.'s family attended. He would only speak to FOX 4 by phone. Tonga said he spent a lot of time questioning Burrel Jr. and his children, but learned nothing. "He denied the accusation," Tonga said. "Nobody admitted anything for the children."
Tonga said his investigation ended there. He did not explain why he never contacted police.
Mormon seminary principal in Utah suspected of sex with student
The Denver Post
PROVO, Utah — A Mormon seminary principal in Utah County has been arrested on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.
Sheriff's investigators said Michael Pratt, 37, of Orem was principal at Lone Peak High School's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary when he was arrested Thursday on multiple charges, including aggravated forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy and object rape.
By court reporter
Court hears pervert will face wrath of his own church
A MORMON grandfather jailed last week for sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl now faces being excommunicated.
Two representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ were in Ayr Sheriff Court last week to hear James Broom sentenced to 15 months.
Broom, 62 was appearing on deferred sentence. He had earlier admitted using lewd, libidinous and indecent practices towards the girl in his home in Mossblown between October 1 2007 and February 2, 2008.
Council for Broom, Mr Matt Jackson said: “He is a deeply committed Christian and is a member of the church. It is as a consequence of his membership of that church that this matter has come to the light of the authorities. He faces church proceedings which he expects may result in him being excommunicated.”
Mr Jackson added: “He is in no doubt whatsoever that what he did was wrong and that he should have done better by the child. “He is sorry for what he has done - not sorry for himself but sorry for any harm he has caused.”
Broom was described as an “old fashioned” family man and reformed alcoholic who has been sober for 30 years.
Mormon jailed for abusing fifteen-year-old girl
Mar 22 2009
By Billy Paterson
Mormon James Broom was last week caged at Ayr Sheriff Court for 15 months for the attacks on his 15-year-old victim. Now the grandfather faces being booted out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has admitted lewd, libidinous and indecent practices towards the girl in his home in Mossblown, Ayrshire from October 2007 to February 2008.
Broom is a reformed alcoholic who has been sober for 30 years. His abuse of the schoolgirl only came to light after he made a full confession to a senior church member. His lawyer Matt Jackson said: "He is a deeply committed Christian and is a member of the church. "He faces church proceedings which he expects may result in him being excommunicated. "He is sorry for any harm he has caused." Broom is considered at a high risk of re-offending. He was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and banned from working with kids.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed by Edmund J. Scanlan Against Mormon Priest & Church of Latter-Day Saints
CHICAGO, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A lawsuit was filed on February 24, 2009, in the Circuit Court of Cook County by attorney Edmund J. Scanlan on behalf of his client, Markeisha Kite. The lawsuit alleges that Christopher W. Kite, her adopted father, sexually abused Markeisha beginning in 1991 when she was four years old. The abuse continued through 2001 when DCFS removed the girl from the home due to her complaints of sexual abuse.
The suit also alleges that David Bromley, brother-in-law of Christopher W. Kite, sexually abused Markeisha in Kite's home from 1991 through 1996. In 2002 Markeisha obtained an order of protection against defendants Bromley and Kite.
The Mormon Church is named as defendant in the suit because Kite sexually abused the minor Markeisha on at least ten occasions in the church facility at 2727 West Lake Street in Wilmette, Illinois, and as an ordained priest of the church, Kite was under direct supervision and control of the church.
The suit seeks damages for childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Attorney Edmund Scanlan said, "The facts in this case are tragic. It is unforgivable that she had to live with this abuse for so many years."
Contact Attorney Edmund Scanlan at 312-422-0343.
How a predator fooled everyone
The Herald - Everett, Wash.
July 31, 2005
By Scott North
To his last breath, David Herget manipulated others.
He had distorted his family's love, pleading guilty a dozen years earlier to molesting a teenage female relative. On July 1, the convicted sex offender was back behind bars, this time accused of sexually abusing boys he met at church.
Herget, 62, of Mountlake Terrace carefully groomed the boys, plying them with pornography and cash, police discovered. He made sure they wouldn't tell by threatening to kill himself should the secret ever be revealed.
It appears Herget made good on his threat.
On suicide watch at the Snohomish County Jail in Everett, Herget on July 2 wound a strip of bedsheet around his neck. Investigators believe he used a jail sandal to tighten the loop, strangling himself as he sat alone in his cell.
The next morning, Mountlake Terrace police delivered the news to the families of the boys he had molested.
The teen who had broken the silence wept tears of confusion and grief, his parents said.
"I'm looking at this boy and I'm thinking, 'You should not have to deal with this garbage at such a young age,'†" his mother said last week.
The boy's parents spoke on the condition their names not be used. They hope that by sharing how a pedophile gained access to their son, other parents might be able to protect their children.
The couple readily acknowledged that they didn't appreciate the danger Herget presented. They knew he had been convicted of a sex crime, but also saw him as a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Mountlake Terrace, where they have been active members for nearly two decades.
They were gulled by Herget's willingness to help others, and the close ties that exist within that community of faith, the boy's father said.
Dozens of others - including a state lawmaker - also stood by Herget, records show.
It's sometimes difficult to recognize that a sex offender can outwardly be a nice person but also a pose a grave risk, said Lucy Berliner, director of the sexual assault program at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The only safe approach is to "accurately and unflinchingly accept" that a sex offender can never be trusted to be alone with children, she said.
"If you let down your guard and allow a known sex offender to be alone with your children, you are experimenting with your child and essentially crossing your fingers and hoping your child won't be the one," Berliner said.
Herget was a self-employed computer expert and the father of four grown children. He was raised in Portland, Ore., one of six children in a devout Mormon family.
Herget's family declined to speak with a reporter. Court papers and interviews confirm that it was through the Mormon church in Mountlake Terrace that he met the boys he molested.
The boy's mother said she was never fond of Herget, who could at times be condescending and domineering. His wife, on the other hand, is as close as an older sister, she said.
It was out of love for Herget's wife and children that he was welcome in their home. Out of love, they stood by Herget when he was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing a girl, the boy's parents said.
The boy's mother said her heart went out to the girl Herget molested. The child first disclosed the molestation to her. The woman said she'd also been abused when she was young. Together, they went to a church leader.
Herget admitted the abuse, and police were summoned. His written confession describes the victim as "young, beguiling and lovely," and his offense as a "dastardly deed."
Even so, Herget dawdled in negotiating a guilty plea in the 1993 case, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said. Herget was angry that authorities had barred him from contact with his own children, who then still lived at home.
"I could not comprehend that anyone would tear us apart as a family," he wrote. "I am appalled that we would be cut off from each other. That type of thing only happened in Nazi Germany or in a godless communist Russia."
Herget sought a special sentence for first-time sex offenders deemed likely to benefit from treatment. Without it, he faced up to nine years in prison.
The court received dozens of letters from church members urging leniency. One was written by a Seattle police detective who belonged to the congregation. Another came from the parents of the boy who would later unmask Herget as a serial molester.
"Mistakes need to be paid for, but once they are paid for, a normal life needs to be allowed," the couple wrote.
State Sen. Paull Shin, D-Mukilteo, was then in his first term in the state House of Representatives. He knew Herget. On a state letterhead, he wrote prosecutors and a Snohomish County judge, requesting leniency.
"I feel that Mr. Herget is basically a kind and honest man," Shin wrote.
Shin said he was new to the Legislature at the time and would not write such a letter today.
"David Herget's wife and his children came to me in tears," he said. "I was very moved by that."
A prosecutor for nearly 24 years, Stern said it is common for people to seek mercy in sex cases.
"Lots of folks are very outspoken about what we should do with sex offenders, until the offender is someone they know," he said.
Stern supported sentencing Herget to treatment. He matched the profile of someone research suggests would be the least likely to re-offend. The girl he molested also wanted Herget to get treatment. That, Stern said, carried more weight than all the letters from church members.
In treatment, Herget told how as a child he had been abused for years by a male relative, records show. The judge received glowing letters about his progress, including Herget's reported recognition that his deviant urges could only be controlled but never extinguished.
Herget was removed from state supervision in summer 2001. He had to register as a sex offender, but had long since reunited with his family.
Excommunicated by a Mormon church tribunal after his conviction, Herget completed the process of penitence, counseling and introspection that allowed him to rejoin the church.
Officials with Herget's church declined to discuss his case. Instead, they provided papers describing in general how the church tracks members who have been convicted of sexual abuse and bars them from work with children.
Herget got around that barrier after 2001 by privately offering assistance as an unofficial volunteer, or by simply being close to the families of his victims. He offered help on scouting projects and provided rides to sporting events, police discovered. Sons were sent to Herget, offering help with yardwork he could not complete because of health problems.
Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Scott Smith said detectives identified at least seven boys Herget abused over the years. One boy estimated that at least 1,400 acts of abuse occurred, starting in summer 2001.
Herget's arrest came after three of the boys spoke with police. All related similar stories of how Herget began trying to molest them when they were young and overcame their reluctance over time, usually with pornography and money.
The abuse was uncovered when the parents of one boy checked the family computer and confirmed suspicions that their son had been visiting sex sites on the Internet.
A check of his e-mail showed frequent correspondence with Herget. The man encouraged the teen to lie to his parents, and talked of letting him do things he knew they would not allow, his father said.
That fit a troubling pattern, the boy's mother said. Herget ignored limits, buying her children gifts and attempting to arrange trips without permission.
"It just seemed he was trying to overrule our parental authority," she said.
Herget cried when the boy's father told him to stay away.
Additional digging led to other e-mail accounts for the boy, all set up by Herget. Messages in those accounts showed Herget was providing pornography, and hinted at worse.
One of the messages read: "You are a good young man. Please forgive me if you can."
The teen finally disclosed the abuse. Other children were being molested as well, he said, because Herget would sometimes involve multiple children in his acts of abuse.
Smith, the police chief, said Herget was able to manipulate people by using his church involvement.
"I'm sure their intentions were good, but I think the church - I don't care if it is Mormon, Methodist, Catholic, I don't care the denomination - they have a responsibility to protect their children," Smith said.
The boy's mother said she has learned how important it is to act on parental instinct. If it feels as if something is wrong, it likely is, she said.
"You've got to be the parent," the boy's father said.
Girl takes stand, alleges sex abuse
LDS ex-teacher: Child says she was "mad"; defense says he didn't do it
By Elizabeth Neff
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
OGDEN - Furrowing her brow and
pausing, the tiny, blond 6-year-old said she was coloring a picture of Jesus
when it happened.
Her Mormon church teacher, she said, came up from behind and touched her
Although it made her feel "mad," she said she didn't tell anyone about the
abuse. When she eventually did, her frantic mother drove to the home of a friend
and then to the home of another girl who made the same claim. On the drive over,
she pulled the car over to pray for guidance.
The first day of trial for a former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints teacher accused of child sexual abuse began Monday against a backdrop of
religion and sin in the small community of Syracuse.
Prosecutors argue Aaron Marcos Montoya fondled three kindergartners in a
church class he taught with his wife. Two of the three girls testified Monday,
sitting on top of a folded blanket so those in the packed courtroom could see
their faces above the witness box. The alleged abuse might never have come to
light had it not been for the older brother of the first girl to testify.
The 12-year-old boy said he told his mother he had overheard his sister and a
friend talking about "something serious" on the school bus.
The boy testified a girl who had recently moved into the neighborhood asked
his sister, "Does he touch you like this?" and grabbed her crotch. His sister,
he said, replied affirmatively.
The girl's mother said she had earlier noticed her daughter was reluctant to
attend church. "She said her teacher was mean," the mother testified. Although
the mother asked her daughter if Montoya had touched her in a bad way, the girl
said he hadn't. But her mother said the suspicion was confirmed when she
confronted her daughter with the school bus conversation.
The second girl to take the witness stand told jurors Monday she was sitting
on Montoya's lap praying when he reached under her skirt from behind.
"He only does it when his wife's not there," the girl said.
Defense attorney Edward Brass told jurors in his opening statement that they
would see inconsistencies in what the girls allege happened.
During his cross-examination of the first girl to testify, he suggested
Montoya had simply helped her retie a bow on her dress. He also pointed to
inconsistent versions of whether Montoya had touched the first girl over her
dress or under it.
"Not one of these children go home - and you'll see that these are all loving
families with close relationships with their children - and not one child goes
home and says, 'Hey, something funny, something bad happened to me in church
today,' " Brass told jurors.
"And why is that? Because at the end of this case, you'll know beyond any
sort of doubt, it's because he didn't do it."
Prosecutor Troy Rawlings repeatedly asked the girls if they understood the
importance of telling the truth, and asked them why they were in court. One
replied, "Because he touched me."
Rawlings told jurors they must look for a pattern in the girls' statements,
conceding age and circumstance might not make "every exact detail" consistent.
"What I want you to know that the evidence is gonna show you is the similarities between what these three little girls are gonna tell," he said during his opening statement. "I want you to look for the similarities. I want you to look for the common theme of who, what, how and where." The trial continues today with testimony from the third girl and detectives before Judge Thomas L. Kay.
Former Mormon missionary sentenced for forcible sexual abuse
OGDEN, Utah A former Mormon missionary has been sentenced in Ogden, Utah, to 180 days in jail for fondling a girl and a young woman as they slept and videotaping it.
The 22-year old who was a missionary at the time of the crimes pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible sex abuse, both second-degree felonies carrying potential sentences of one to 15 years in prison.
A judge dismissed two other forcible sex abuse charges and two misdemeanor counts of voyeurism.
Information from: Deseret Morning News
'Mormon priest' jailed for sex attacks
Aug 24 2005
South Wales Echo
A SELF-STYLED Mormon priest was behind bars today after he sexually abused two young girls.
Church-goer Michael Davies, 38, abused the girls, both aged under ten, while taking them out on day trips after befriending their parents.
Police also discovered indecent images of children on his home computer after they raided Davies’ home in Pant Glas, Pentwyn, Cardiff.
Davies appeared in Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to 13 sexual offences against the two girls, and asked for four charges of making indecent images of children to be taken into consideration.
His crimes were uncovered after one of his victims persuaded the other to make a complaint to the police.
Tom Crowther, prosecuting, told the court how Davies, who described himself to police as a “Mormon priest” gained the trust of the girls’ parents, who allowed him to take them out on day trips.
Davies sexually abused the girls over a four month period while he took them out on day trips.
The court heard how Davies was previously convicted of indecently exposing himself to a 15-year-old schoolgirl while he was on a train ten years ago.
Karl Williams, defending, said Davies was paralysed down one side of his body after suffering a stroke.
He added: “He now accepts that what he has done is clearly wrong.”
Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones QC, who jailed Davies indefinitely Corr, told him he would have to serve a minimum of nearly three years before the parole board would consider him for release.
“You have devastated the lives of those parents and caused enormous stress, worry and torment to the two children," he said.
Davies was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life and was banned from working with children for life.
SEATTLE, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A jury in Washington State has ordered the Mormon Church to pay $4.2 million to two sisters abused by their stepfather.
Peter Taylor, also a defendant in the lawsuit, served four years in prison for the crimes. The sisters claimed two bishops in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints covered up the sexual abuse.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports lawyers for the sisters argued that the bishops were functioning as family counselors, since, under Washington State Law, clergy are not required to report sexual abuse.
One sister said she and her parents had a meeting with a bishop who called her in alone first and told her she should be thankful she had not reported her stepfather's actions to police because that would have destroyed the family.
Former Mormon youth counselor sentenced to six months in prison
January 3, 2006
SACRAMENTO – A former Mormon youth counselor who was charged in April with molesting a boy he met while serving at the church was sentenced to six months in jail Tuesday after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor count of child annoyance.
Michael Scott Woodbury, 37, originally was facing 30 felony counts of lewd acts with a minor but because the offenses were less-serious than initially suspected and questions about the legality of a taped phone call, the sides agreed to the reduced charge, attorneys said.
A family member of the victim taped a phone conversation between Woodbury and the teenager and gave the tape to Sacramento County Sheriff's investigators last April, prompting the investigation.
Woodbury met the boy when he was 12 and was arrested when the boy was 15 or 16.
Deputy District Attorney Del Oros told The Sacramento Bee that both sides understood that a hearing on the admissibility of the tape could decide the case and decided to agree to a plea deal.
"That became the tail that wagged the dog," Oros said. "Each side had a lot to win or lose. ... We reached the goal of protecting the interest of the community and getting justice for the victim."
Woodbury's attorney, Michael Rothschild, said authorities oversold the charges in hopes that additional victims might come forward.
The victim's mother thought the sentence was too lenient.
"I felt it just that Mr. Woodbury would also experience a lifelong loss and consequence commensurate to the personal violation of a young boy," she wrote in a letter to Judge Patrick Marlette read by Oros during Tuesday's hearing in Sacramento Superior Court.
Marlette said under the conditions of probation, Woodbury will be required to register as a sex offender, which he described as a punishment in itself.
"Thirty-five-year-old men cannot have friendships with 12-year-old boys," Marlette said. "I do not think that was an innocent friendship that went sour."
Woodbury, who is a lawyer, met the boy when he served as Young Men president in the Rosemont Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, authorities said. He worked with male church members 12 to 18 years old.
30 Kern County Sex Victims Claimed
BAKERSFIELD - There are new details about a teacher arrested in Ontario who claims to have molested as many as 30 children in Kern County.
Eric Olsen, 28, was arrested last week on suspicion of committing lewd acts with a child in Ontario. Once in custody, police said Olsen started talking about other possible child victims.
Since his arrest, KGET-17 News learned Olsen has an extensive history in Kern County. Olsen attended West High School and was a band member. He later attended Cal State Bakersfield and was for a brief time, part of the Campus Jazz Ensemble where he played the trumpet.
Olsen’s music teachers from high school and college both concurred he was a nice student. One teacher said he was shocked to hear of such allegations.
Olsen attended a Mormon Church in Bakersfield which has local Mormon Church members concerned.
“Our heart certainly goes out to the victims and the families who are going through this at this time,” said Clareen Hays with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “Our church will cooperate any way possible with law enforcement. I understand that the investigation is continuing.”
Olsen was a substitute teacher in local elementary school districts as well as the Kern High School Districts.
So far, there have not been any local molestation victims who have forward in Kern County.
If any parent thinks their child may have been a victim, they should call the Bakersfield Police Department at 327-7111 or the Kern County Sheriff's Department at 868-4085.
Kentucky lawsuit accuses Mormon missionary of sex abuse
Jan 30, 2007
(BEATTYVILLE, Ky.) -- A Mormon missionary who was accused of sexually abusing three people in 2005 during a missionary trip in Kentucky and Indiana has been sued along with the church by the mother of one of the accusers.
The eastern Kentucky woman contends that Jason Stark's conduct damaged her son psychologically, socially and mentally. The lawsuit says the boy, who is younger than 18, has suffered public scorn, ridicule and embarrassment because of Stark, who is from Idaho.
The case was filed in Lee County Circuit Court in December. The Mormon church asked last week that the case be moved to federal court.
Stark was charged in Lee County with two counts of sodomy and one count of attempted sodomy last February. He is scheduled for trial July 16th.
The church said in March that Stark had "been released from his missionary duties" pending the outcome of the trial. He is out on bond.
The church has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, saying some of the claims might be barred by statute of limitations and that it cannot be held responsible for actions of someone not necessarily under its control.
Missionary charged with abusing 12-year-old convert
By Stephen Hunt
The Salt Lake Tribune
Mormon missionary has been charged with fondling a 12-year-old boy he
had recently baptized, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday
in 3rd District Court.
Kyle Saucier, 20, is charged with one count of first-degree felony
aggravated sexual abuse of a child, which is punishable by six-, 10 or
15 years to life in prison.
One factor elevating the seriousness of the alleged crime is that
Saucier "occupied a position of special trust in relation to the
victim," according to the complaint.
The boy told a Salt Lake County sheriff's detective that on Dec.
24, 2006, he and his mother went to Saucier's residence to give him a
Christmas present, according to the complaint. Saucier "gave him a hug,
then reached into his pants, and touched his penis," the boy told
A $50,000 warrant has been issued for Saucier's arrest.
Ex-LDS leader George P. Lee booked for allegedly not registering as sex offender
Former First Quorum of the Seventy member was excommunicated in 1989; Ran twice for Navajo Nation presidency
By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
George P. Lee, a former member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the
Seventy and candidate for Navajo Nation president, was arrested Friday
in southwest Utah on suspicion of failing to register as a sex
A spokesman for the Utah Department of Corrections on Monday said
it had been three years since keepers of the state's sex offender
registry knew Lee's whereabouts.
For a sex offender to fail to update his contact information is a
felony punishable by as much as five years in prison, though Lee has
not been formally charged. Lee, 64, was released Friday from the
Washington County jail on $5,000 bond.
Lee's last known address was a 2001 listing in Santa Clara,
according to the department of corrections.
"He's moved a couple of times since then and he's just failed to
register," said Stephanie Coots, a spokeswoman for the Washington
County Sheriff's Office.
Lee has been unaccounted for since July 19, 2004, said Jack Ford, a
spokesman for the department of corrections.
The state's sex offender Web site on Monday listed Lee's address as
Detectives from the Washington County Sheriff's Office found Lee
while searching for unregistered sex offenders in that county, Coots
Detectives found an address that Lee gave to St. George police, who
had questioned him earlier about a minor traffic issue, she said.
In 1975, Lee was named to the First Quorum of Seventy, the first
and only American Indian among LDS general authorities.
He served until 1989, when he was excommunicated from The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 1 for what Mormon leaders
called "conduct unbecoming a member of the church." It was the first
excommunication of a Mormon general authority in 46 years.
In 1990 and 1994, Lee ran for president of the Navajo Nation,
losing in the primary both times.
In October 1994, he pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse of a
child, a third-degree felony, admitting that he fondled the breasts of
a 12-year-old family friend.
The girl, 17 at the time of the trial, said Lee exploited the
religious respect she had for him to fondle to her breasts, buttocks
and genitals. She said the abuse began when she was 9 years old and
lasted for three years.
Judge Kenneth Rigtrup placed Lee on 18 months probation and ordered
him to pay a $1,850 fine, complete sex-offender counseling, write a
letter of apology to the victim and pay costs of her counseling.
Ford said Lee is scheduled to remain on the registry until November 2011.
Award Cut in Mormon Church Abuse Case
Thursday September 20, 2007
SEATTLE (AP) - Part of a $4.2 million award in a sexual abuse-related lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been overturned on appeal.
A three-judge panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday that the church still owed slightly more than $1.2 million to two sisters who said a Mormon bishop had kept one of them from reporting sexual abuse by their stepfather, Mormon high priest Peter N. Taylor.
However, the panel also ruled that the church was not financially responsible for Taylor's liability and returned the case to a trial court for a decision on liability beyond the $1.2 million.
Thomas D. Frey, a lawyer for the church, said church leaders were pleased with the legal clarification.
In late 2005, a jury in Seattle awarded $4.2 million to Jessica and Ashley Cavalieri, now 26 and 21, for abuse that occurred in the 1990s.
Of the total, $1.7 million was assessed against Taylor, slightly more than $1.1 million against the church for outrageous infliction of emotional distress because Bishop Bruce Randall Hatch prevented the older daughter from reporting abuse, and $1.4 million against the church for negligence because Hatch did not report the abuse to civil authorities.
The appeals ruling held that the church could not be held liable for the entire amount assessed against Taylor and overturned the negligence award altogether. The appeals court rejected the sisters' claim that the bishop was similar to a social worker and thus required to report sexual abuse to authorities.
Timothy D. Kosnoff, a lawyer for the sisters, said he might appeal.
Taylor pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation in 2001 and was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
The sisters agreed to let their names be used in news reports in the hopes it would help other abused children after they brought the case in 2002.
Mormon Church, Boy Scouts sex abuse lawsuit grows
Oct 3, 2007
PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - A lawsuit filed against the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America expanded on Wednesday to include four more men charging the organizations with ignoring sex abuses committed decades ago by a man who served as a church teacher and a scout leader.
The six men, who filed a new lawsuit in Oregon state Circuit Court in Multnomah County, allege that Timur Dykes, a former spiritual leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and former scout leader, repeatedly abused them when they were boys.
Dykes, a convicted sex offender, is listed on Multnomah County's registered sex offender Web page. He is not named as a defendant in this suit.
"Both the Mormon Church and Boy Scouts were well aware by at least the 1960s that they had a serious, institution-wide infestation of child abuse, stretching across the country," said the plaintiffs' attorney Kelly Clark. "They did not clear it up."
The original two plaintiffs, two brothers in their early 30s, dropped the original lawsuit and refiled the case to add four more plaintiffs. The men filed the lawsuit under the names "Jack Doe."
The lawsuit asks for $25 million in damages.
Dykes was allowed to continue in positions of trust and continue to abuse boys for four or five years after he was first arrested or investigated as early as 1981, said Clark.
"We work very, very hard to protect children in the Boy Scouts," said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, who declined to comment on the suit.
Portland attorney Stephen English, representing the Mormon Church, said the church is thoroughly investigating what happened. He also said Dykes was never a member of the Mormon clergy and has been excommunicated.
Missionary is Back Behind Bars
CBS Eyewitness News – Las Vegas
Oct 17, 2007
The Channel 8 I-Team has learned a former Mormon missionary accused of molesting two little girls is back behind bars. Sources tell the I-Team John Misseldine was arrested Tuesday night for violating the terms of his probation.
In 2005, Misseldine pleaded no contest to attempted lewdness with a child and coercion.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, if he successfully completes five years probation, the counts will be dismissed and he will not have to register as a sex offender.
Misseldine's attorney tells the I-Team he has already filed a motion to have him released and hopes to have a hearing next week.
He says he does not know the specifics as to
why his client was arrested.
Mormon man stalked girl
November 16, 2007
A MAN of "high standing" in the Mormon Church has escaped jail for his predatory behaviour towards two teen siblings he met through the church.
Joseph Carlton Atwater, 53, exposed his erect penis to the girl, 13; took the boy, 15, out of school for the day; and showed both teenagers pornographic computer images and sketches, the County Court heard.
The former missionary sneaked into the teenagers' house at night without their parents' knowledge and entered the bedrooms of their younger siblings, the court was told.
Atwater gave the girl a condom out of his wallet, sent text messages trying to lure her to his house, and emailed her on an internet chat room about how he liked to make love to his wife.
He also drew pictures of naked men and women having sex and gave them to the boy, later telling police he was "merely educating him in respect to sexual matters".
Atwater was found out after the teens' mother discovered three sexually explicit drawings in the laundry, the court heard.
The prosecution claimed Atwater's predatory behaviour raised concerns he was "building up to something more sinister".
Judge Jane Campton yesterday sentenced Atwater to a fully suspended two-year jail term and a 12-month community-based order, requiring him to complete 150 hours of volunteer work and a sex offenders' program.
Atwater had pleaded guilty to one count of stalking the girl between September and December 2005, and one count of child stealing relating to the boy.
Judge Campton said Atwater had the support of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and said a bishop described him as "of high-standing in the church, devoted to his wife, family and grandchildren".
A psychiatrist reported Atwater was a low risk of reoffending and characterised his crimes as a "misguided, uncharacteristic lapse of judgment".
But Judge Campton said she found it difficult to accept that his behaviour was without sexual motivation.
"I was not impressed by your evidence in which you appeared to downplay your role in these events," she said.
"It is totally inappropriate for a grown man to behave in such a predatory nature with a young girl."
Judge Campton said she accepted Atwater faced exceptional circumstances, saying he helped care for his ill grandchildren and had previously been of good character.
She said she had also taken into account the shame and embarrassment the charges brought with them.
The offending had a "drastic effect" on the victims' family, with the teenagers' mother describing it as a "soul-destroying experience".
Former Mormon missionary gets prison in Nevada child sex case
By Ken Ritter
The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS - A former
Mormon missionary was sentenced Thursday to two to six years in prison
after a judge ruled he violated terms of a plea deal that called for
him to complete counseling and community service.
The judge decreed John Misseldine, 26, guilty of lewdness with a
child under the age of 14 and coercion, and ordered him to register and
submit to monitoring as a sex offender. The felony charges, dating to
2003, had been stayed under terms of the October 2005 plea deal.
"I still maintain my innocence in this case," Misseldine said when
Clark County District Judge Donald Mosley asked him to speak.
The judge dismissed Misseldine's assertions that the claims against
him were false and a scheme by the girls' families to get money from
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I'm not buying it, No. 1," the judge said, "and No. 2, it doesn't
make any sense. Why would they come up with this story? It's pretty
hard to imagine this was just fabricated."
Defense lawyer Robert Draskovich said outside court that he will
"This needs to be reviewed by the Nevada Supreme Court," he said.
The mothers of the young accusers, then 4 and 7, sobbed quietly in
the courtroom while Draskovich and prosecutor Lisa Luzaich referred to
allegations that the youngest girl also claimed she had been sexually
abused by an uncle.
Those charges were later dropped, the girl's mother said later.
The mother of the older girl, who said outside court she was
relieved Misseldine will have to register as a sex offender, called it
"ridiculous" to claim the girls made up the stories for money.
"That's horrible," she said. "I would never think of having my
little girl say these things."
The Associated Press is withholding the names of the mothers
because their daughters are victims of sexual abuse.
Records show civil lawsuits filed in 2005 in Clark County District
Court against Misseldine, the Mormon church and others were closed in
2007 after the church set up trust funds of $400,000 for the older girl
and $382,000 for the younger girl and her sister.
Misseldine, of Little Rock, Ark., was accused of fondling the two
girls while he was baby-sitting them in a classroom during services at
a Las Vegas church in 2003.
Draskovich said Misseldine never got a chance to face his accusers
or challenge their stories at trial because of the negotiated
settlement. The lawyer also called it "premature" to revoke
Misseldine's probation after only two of five years.
But Luzaich asked the judge to impose a maximum possible sentence
of five to 20 years in prison.
She said Misseldine manipulated the court, failed to complete
counseling and community service and had not found a full-time job as
"He was given the best deal that anyone ever could have gotten in a
case like this," Luzaich told the judge, "and basically he threw it
right back in our face and this court's face."
Two Portland men join sex-abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts, Mormon church
Posted by Peter Zuckerman,
June 25, 2008
Two Portland men filed an $8.5 million lawsuit today against the Mormon church and the Boy Scouts, bringing to eight the total number of former Boy Scouts alleging sexual abuse by Timur Van Dykes, who was a church and scout leader in the 1980s and early 90s.
The lawsuit contends that Timur Van Dykes molested Boy Scouts in Troop 719, which was supervised by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dykes, a registered sex offender who now lives in Southwest Portland, has been convicted of at least 26 sex crimes since 1983.
Together, the pending abuse cases filed in Multnomah County Court against the scouts and the church seek $33.5 million.
Six of the alleged victims agreed earlier this month to enter talks to settle their lawsuits but failed to reach a resolution.
At least a dozen Oregon child-abuse cases are pending against the Boy Scouts.
Rites and wrongs - alleged abuse in the Mormon church
Sunday Star Times
Sunday, 10 August 2008
BOSS IS dead. The Southland bull mastiff had to be put down after he became aggressive, says his owner, Ora Tautari. She says her pet's behaviour changed after becoming another victim of Raphael Caccioppoli, who was last month sentenced in Invercargill to five years' jail on 13 indecency, sexual and violence charges.
These, involving mostly young boys and a teenage man, were committed while Caccioppoli was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) or Mormons. According to Tautari and several other sources the Sunday Star-Times has spoken to, Caccioppoli, a lawyer and justice ministry judicial officer, was sent south from the North Island by the church and made a Sunday school teacher. He was invited to live with the family, a common practice within the church, after he befriended Tautari's husband.
Tautari is angry that North Island church leaders never let on they knew Caccioppoli had sexually abused boys in the past. They never told her family when they first opened up their home to him and they didn't tell the parents of the Sunday school children he taught.
She is particularly disgusted that, even though he was excommunicated from the church for his offending in June 2007, several members were in court to support Caccioppoli at his sentencing. She struggles to comprehend how the church could show concern for his welfare and yet apparently show none for the children they knowingly let him be with.
Almost as soon as he arrived, Caccioppoli started causing problems between the couple, Tautari says. He continued to live with the family, however, even after LDS Social Services finally contacted the Invercargill church in March last year and warned it about Caccioppoli.
Tautari says he minimised his offending, telling church members he would sometimes wake up and find himself fondling his victims, as though it was a mistake.
Judge Robert Wolff criticised the church's poor effort to handle Caccioppoli's offending internally. "I would like to encourage churches in these circumstances to not endeavour to deal with these things in-house. They are ill-equipped to do so and there are better and wiser courses to follow." If Caccioppoli's offending had been "acknowledged in the appropriate place", some of his later offending may not have occurred, Judge Wolff said.
Defence counsel Bill Dawkins said Caccioppoli had disclosed details of his offending to his offending to his church as early as one month after he committed an indecent act on a 12-year-old boy in 1998. The church had held "many" meetings with Caccioppoli, and in August 2005 he was told the matter was "resolved", Dawkins said.
A few months later Caccioppoli arrived in Southland.
Now Tautari, a 31-year-old Mormon wife and mother of four, is divorcing her husband, whom she says insisted Caccioppoli be allowed to live in the family home even after he acknowledged violating the dog.
She left in July last year with the help of Women's Refuge after she claimed she suffered domestic violence. When Tautari sought the support of other church women, she was told to "suck it up". "Three women said it was the same for them and that it was their role. One said she hates her husband but continues to stay."
LIKE MOST churches, LDS is not immune to scandal or suggestions that its strict rules on the likes of premarital sex and alcohol, rigid hierarchy and prescribed gender roles are sometimes hard for its members to live up to.
The church, some of whose members in its early days practised polygamy, has also been tainted by offshoots refusing to give up countenancing multiple and underage brides. In 1992 the worldwide head of the church, 91-year-old Gordon Hinckley, acknowledged child sexual abuse within his own church. Four years later, 82-year-old Merlin Deadman was sentenced in Hamilton District Court to a year's jail on nine counts of indecent assault on six women. Police said that between 1980 and 1985, Deadman portrayed himself as a qualified doctor and "manipulative therapist", practising from a surgery in his home in Temple View, Hamilton, a predominantly Mormon community and home to many of the country's 97,000-strong adherents.
The church's strict behavioural code may be taking a heavy toll on members. Earlier this year Mental Health America, the country's oldest independent mental health advocacy organisation, ranked Utah the most depressed state in the country - 70% of its population is Mormon. Dr Curtis Canning, the former president of the Utah Psychiatric Association, was quoted in a news story reporting the state's high depression figure as saying that in Mormon culture, females are supposed to accept a calling. "They are to be constantly smiling over their family of five. They are supposed to take supper across the street to an ill neighbour and then put up with their husband when he comes home from work and smile about it the whole time. To be a good mother and wife, women have to put on this mask of perfection. They can't show their tears, depression or agony."
The reality, say local Mormon women who spoke to the Sunday Star-Times, is that when they seek counselling for abuse, they are usually called to show more faith in their husbands, through more prayer. To work harder to love and respect him more. If he says he has repented, the principles of the church have been met.
JANE IS one of those angry that the church didn't do more to protect her from abuse. She spoke to the Star-Times on the condition that we not reveal her real name or location.
It was the late 1960s and, until then, Jane had been brought up by parents whom she says were alcoholic and involved in crime. They'd attracted the attention of Mormon missionaries who made increasing visits to the family home. Jane says that in a misguided bid to get rid of the missionaries, her parents agreed to get baptised. But when both ended up doing time in jail, the church stepped in to offer her care. Jane says several foster parents, all from the church, used her as a sex object, repeatedly violating her and forcing her to perform oral sex on them.
One of the men was particularly abusive. In a statement to police she says: "I remember running away. I didn't have anywhere to go but I just decided I needed to run away. I took two things with me and I wished I'd used them. The first was a Book of Mormon, like a bible, the second was a razor blade. I was going to kill myself. I wanted him to kill me."
She also claims that, as a teenager, she was forced to have sex with two church members, and when she finally plucked up the courage to tell an elder, he violated her - in his church office. She told police: "He told Social Welfare that I'd recanted about the [men] having sex with me. I didn't at all. I wasn't asked or talked to. Social Welfare left it up to the church to look into it and they didn't even talk to me."
Jane, who is now in her late 40s, is a broken shell of a woman as she remembers her past. She still believes in God but has left the church and taken her children away from its influence, fearful that they too would become trapped in an abusive cycle.
A COUPLE OF hours south of Christchurch, another woman is preparing for life after the church - but for Monica, whose name has also been changed, it's the ultimate sacrifice.
She still believes the church and all that it teaches, is the best in the world. The mother of two doesn't drink or smoke, as the church requires, but is outspoken - a black mark in an institution that likes to keep its matters private.
Monica says she too is a survivor of domestic violence, suffered - she claims with the church's knowledge - at the hands of her ex-husband.
"He didn't beat me around the face. He used to throw me around the room, bang me against the wall, slam me into doors, slammed doors on me. He's tried to run me over with a car." He used to hold knives to her throat in front of their young son. He hit her while she was holding the boy.
She has hospital emergency department admission notes for two separate visits. In February 1997 she had her right hand x-rayed; in September 1998 her left foot was x-rayed. Both times she lied about the cause of her injuries.
She says she miscarried after one assault. "I went for a bath to ease the pain." Suddenly, she says, she passed blood and a small, perfectly formed foetus. Holding the tiny form she called him. "I got out of the bath and said, `Look. Look at this.' He took it from me and flushed it down the toilet."
Monica said she suffered several miscarriages during the marriage to a man who changed as soon as they were married. He had treated her well in their relationship until then. "His whole reason for marrying was to become a bishop. You can't be a bishop if you're not married." Temple marriage was for life and all eternity. "I was his property forever. He still thinks that."
She says she was told that a church court hearing found him guilty of wife-beating and of disposing of the foetus, but it allowed him to continue working in roles of authority and responsibility because it accepted he had "repented".
In fact it was Monica who was called to account. She was brought before the church court in 2004 - long after their marriage was over - to answer an allegation she had hit her ex-husband once. Monica immediately denied the charge: "I slapped him once. It felt so good, I slapped him again."
Monica says she has been ostracised by church members because she complained about the abuse. She was told if she shut her mouth and did what her husband told her to do, her situation would improve.
But Monica says she was only prepared to tolerate the abuse for so long - her marriage lasted just five years.
She called police after a violent episode in 1999. The police report said: "Physical violence is a problem for [Monica] who had previously been in hospital for injuries sustained during assaults." She asked police not to charge him.
Monica says police advised her to contact a lawyer and find out about protection orders. Six months later the defining moment came. "The day that I actually left he slammed me up against the lounge wall." He then spat on her and stormed out.
Monica said she found her son cowering under his bed crying: "Please don't hit Mum, Daddy. Please don't hit any more."
"That was it for me. I gathered up some clothes and food and we went to a lady's place and we rang Women's Refuge." They were there three weeks. During that time she found out she was pregnant with their second child.
Her husband went to anger management. A bishop counselled her to return to him and keep the family together. She prayed and she tried. "I was going to save our marriage, make myself safe and he will become a better husband."
They agreed to a four-month separation but when he again threatened her, she extended it to eight months. He told her he would marry again and seek custody of their children.
She has legal custody until they are 16.
Monica expects she will be excommunicated from the church for speaking about her experience, even anonymously, but she knows it won't dent her faith in God or her ability to live a good life. "It's time for the crap to stop."
It's difficult for Monica to remember and speak out about the violence. In 2002 she was found to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse. Psychologist Elizabeth Gutteridge's report, written in July 2002, scored her on the Impact of Event Scale at 61 - a score of 26 indicates a severe case.
"The post traumatic stress disorder examination conducted in April 2002 indicated [Monica] had severe symptoms - flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, heightened arousal, avoidance of stimulae that triggers memories. The traumatic events include physical violence and psychological abuse by her ex-husband.
"She continues to be afraid she will be controlled and possibly physically harmed (by him)..."
National church spokeswoman Melanie Riwai-Couch responded to the claims made by the three women with a statement: "The Church's principal concern now is the needs of the women to whom you referred. The invitation stands for them (always) if they would like to:
* Meet and discuss with their Relief Society President (the female leader in their congregation); or
* Meet and discuss with their minister; or
* Have access to an alternative leader away from where they live (if this makes them more comfortable); or
* Have a referral to LDS Social Services and the counselling service through the Church."
Riwai-Couch says male and female leaders in the church apply skills, experience and training they receive to address any instances of abuse. "By and large, the leaders deal effectively with the issues they face. Nevertheless, as imperfect people, there will be some instances that are not handled perfectly." She says the church regards the family as the most important unit in society. "Individuals who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfil family responsibilities, will one day stand accountable before God."
JANE, MONICA and Tautari have kept their belief in that God, even if their faith in the church has been badly dented by their experiences. They scoff at the concern the church has expressed and doubt it will acknowledge the severity of the offending, but know they can help others still trapped in lives of abuse and violence by giving them and their children a public voice.
Tautari has left the southern province to set up a new life with her four children. She says her faith is stronger than before, as she no longer has to seek the approval of what she calls "religious hypocrites" who try to stand between her and her God.
Monica is now happily married to a non-Mormon man. She loves to sing, something her former husband banned in the house, even when he wasn't home. On the lounge room wall she proudly displays two singing awards she has won.
Jane's eyes and voice remain empty of hope, but deep within there is a strength and courage that belies the desperation she feels. She has made a statement to police about her foster parents. She prays they will investigate her claims, that the predators who hid within the church will finally be brought to account.
Mormons in NZ
The first Mormon missionaries to come to New Zealand arrived in 1854 from Australia. The church says it made slow early progress in attracting converts, and many who did quickly emigrated to Salt Lake City, where the church was founded. Nevertheless, the rate of conversion was fast enough to convince the church to shift its South Pacific HQ from Sydney to Auckland in 1874. In 1880, church president Joseph F Smith instructed missionaries to concentrate on Maori. The church claims 97,000 members, many in Hamilton, where the missionary-built New Zealand Temple and Church College of New Zealand are located. Source: ldschurch.org.nz
Mormon jailed for seven years over sex abuse
Cambridge News Online
A MORMON has been jailed for seven years after a 'prolonged campaign of sexual abuse on a vulnerable boy'.
Martyn Conway was sentenced following his conviction on eight indecency charges - including rape and attempted rape of the boy.
Conway, 48, of Princess Court, Cambridge, acted as a father figure to the boy while a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, in Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge.
Judge Anthony Bate, sentencing Conway, said: "Your good name is now gone and your disgrace is complete."
Judge Bate said there had been a 'prolonged campaign of sexual abuse on a vulnerable boy by a trusted family friend and church member'.
WORD FAITH INDEX