The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is finally facing the consequences of decades of sexual abuse and coverups, with multiple lawsuits being filed by victims across the United States.
Just recently, a 316-page report based on public records, church files, and news was published, describing instances of alleged sexual abuse by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 1959 to 2017.
Meanwhile, victims in Arizona filed seven lawsuits against the LDS Church at the end of 2020 for its alleged role in covering up sexual abuse among Boy Scout troops within the state.
Unfortunately, we anticipate more victims will come forward as time goes on. The truth is, the Church of Jesus Christ has a pattern of covering up sexual abuse within its Church-sanctioned locations, events, and organizations.
But what are those places where abuse frequently occurs?
Boy Scout Functions
Up until January 1, 2020, the Mormon Church was the largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America. It ended its partnership amidst launching its own worldwide youth program.
However, the Boy Scouts of America faced tens of thousands of sexual abuse claims, from incidents that occurred over decades and were subsequently covered up. When the Church of Jesus Christ encouraged its youth members to join the Boy Scouts and attend Boy Scouts functions, it put those children in harm’s way—and many were victims of abuse during their time as Boy Scouts.
However, some victims allege that although members of the church-sponsored Boy Scout troops informed church bishops about abuse they suffered, the church officials encouraged them to stay quiet while the church conducted an investigation. But victims’ attorneys say church officials never notified authorities about the abuse, and those accused were allowed to continue volunteering with Boy Scout troops.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has historically encouraged involvement in other youth functions outside of Boy Scout camps, where abuse was known to happen.
Accounts of Church functions as long ago as the 1970s and ‘80s reveal Mormon leaders preying on children during functions where parents and family weren’t present. Accounts of abuse during these Church-sponsored programs are still coming to light in present-day.
Often, Church leaders aimed to single out youth members and groom them into victims that wouldn’t speak out or report abuse.
Mission trips are a vital part of the LDS faith. According to PBS, “Each year, approximately 53,000 Mormon missionaries go out into the world to win as many as 250,000 converts to their faith.” Today, missionaries are primarily young men and women.
Unfortunately, mission trips aren’t always safe. There have been multiple reports of people being sexually assaulted during a mission, and the Church hasn’t always offered proper care to victims. In other cases, victims were abused by Church leaders while being trained for mission trips.
And the Mormon Church has also been accused of sending known sexual abusers on mission trips, regardless of the danger it posed to other members.
Find a Way Forward From Sexual Abuse
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a history of failing to protect its members from sexual abuse. If you or someone you know is a victim, Hurley McKenna & Mertz can help.
Our expert attorneys have represented thousands of sexual abuse victims of sexual abuse over decades of legal practice. We understand the care and confidentiality this type of case requires.
Filing a claim could be an important step in your journey to move forward from abuse. Contact us to get started.