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Does Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim Against the Mormon Church Mean I Have to Leave the Church?

January 14, 2021  ·  By HM&M


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nearly two centuries of history as a source of community and faith—but with a dark side that’s just becoming visible to the public.

The Church’s systemic problem with sexual abuse is making headlines as of late. As more brave victims step forward and share their stories, the true scope of abuse expands further and deeper than many imagined.

There are a number of reasons that sexual abuse victims in any situation hesitate to come forward: Fear of not being believed, retaliation, ostracization, and more. But in the Mormon Church, many are concerned that they’d be forced to leave the Church if they file a claim against it for sexual abuse. However, you won’t have to leave the Church if you choose to move forward with a lawsuit.

Filing a Sexual Assault Claim While Remaining in the Mormon Church

It’s understandable that you won’t want to be forced out of the LDS community, but filing a sexual assault claim doesn’t necessarily mean you will.

You may be able to file anonymously.

One way to maintain your privacy within the church while getting the closure you deserve is to file your sexual abuse claim anonymously. There are certain cases where you may file a claim under a pseudonym, preventing your legal name from being attached to your case. This option allows you to continue relying on the support of your faith community during this emotionally challenging process.

Ask your attorney to expand on this option for you—and any considerate, experienced attorney will ensure your case is handled with the care, respect, and dedication to detail it demands.

You may find surprising shows of support within the LDS community.

If you do decide to seek support within the LDS community, you may be surprised at the resources that exist in the form of fellow members. Be it in your local brand or ward, or others across the country, there are likely others who have experienced similar trauma and can support you emotionally and spiritually as you work through it—with the common thread of shared faith.

Not only will you gain the closure that comes from filing a claim, you can also enjoy supportive relationships within the Church.

You can explore and grow in your faith without the fear of being silenced.

Once you file a claim, you may be surprised that instead of worshiping in fear of someone finding out what happened to you, you instead experience relief from taking an important step forward—and it may even deepen your faith.

One Mormon woman featured in an article from The Guardian found just that:

“’When I was in the deepest grief, despair, and loneliness in dealing with residual horrors of assaults, I opened myself to a profound and hope-filled relationship with Jesus,’ Carol wrote on her Facebook wall.”

Coming forward is difficult and painful, especially when the Church is a cornerstone of your life. However, seeking justice against those responsible for your abuse is often the first step on the healing journey. We can help with your first step and throughout any proceedings while you remain a part of your church community.

Prioritize Your Wellbeing to Move Forward: File a Claim Against Your Abusers

Forgiveness is a noble objective, but be wary of Church leaders who tell you that forgiving your abuser is the only way to move on from your abuse. That places the burden for one’s trauma back on victim, when it belongs on the abuser. In reality, it’s not selfish to seek justice—it’s an important part of the healing process and paves the way forward.

Hurley McKenna & Mertz represents more than 4,000 victims who have suffered sexual abuse while attending events involving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Catholic Church, and we’re here to help you.

Each attorney at our firm understands how painful memories of abuse may be, and we will treat you and your case with the respect and kindness you deserve during this challenging process. We’re here to help guide you through the claim-filing process and answer any questions.

Ultimately, we know that filing this claim against your abusers is incredibly difficult. But know that you do not have to leave your community. We will do everything legally possible to protect your identity while seeking justice in your case, so you can feel safe remaining involved in your church during the process.

Reach out to us today for a free consultation, and to learn how we can support you throughout the proceeding.

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