When Joyce Soqui decided to do something to help heal the hurt of a tragic and controversial situation in her community, she had no idea she would run head-on into a brick wall of conservative financial institutions.
Soqui, like many in Lehi and in other communities, read news accounts of the trial of Allan Hadfield and was moved to consider the future of the children caught up in the case.Hadfield, 36, was convicted in December on seven child sex abuse charges after his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter graphically testified how he sexually abused them.
The trial and Hadfield's sentence of 10 years on probation effectively polarized Lehi. His supporters established a defense fund for Hadfield at one Lehi bank, and so far have raised more than $10,000. But Soqui wondered what would become of the children, who seemed to her like forgotten victims of the tragedy.
"I felt somebody had to help those kids, and I know many people feel it's time something was done for them," Soqui said. "They've suffered so much, and it's something they have to live with the rest of their lives. So I said, `Let's help them.' "
Her idea was to start a trust fund for the children at a local bank and solicit contributions from the public. All money raised would go to help pay the cost of psychiatric counseling the children will need for many years.
Soqui felt the cause was noble and believed she would have no trouble finding support. But what she found surprised her.
She searched for weeks before finding a financial institution that would agree to handle a trust account on behalf of the Hadfield children. Seven banks rejected the idea as too controversial.
Several times bank officers were very receptive at first, only to tell her later that the idea had been rejected by upper management or the board of directors.
The banks all used similar excuses: It would be detrimental for a financial institution to appear to be taking sides in the Hadfield controversy. Some banks offered to open an account for the children but refused to let the bank's name be used to help solicit funds.
Soqui even approached her employer, a large Salt Lake bank, but got the same message: The bank's policy was not to become involved with anything controversial.
For a time she considered renting a post office box and asking the public to mail contributions there. But she rejected that idea because it sounded too much like a mail fraud scam.
"We needed a bank where people could deposit money and know it is going to be used the way they intended," she said. "I work for a bank, so I understand (banks) not wanting anything that might be considered a black mark on their name.
"But this is being done without judgment of anyone's guilt or innocence. Doctors testified those kids were sexually abused. They need help. Sometimes I got discouraged and sometimes I got angry, but I just couldn't give up."
Eventually Soqui approached Deseret Federal Savings, which agreed to set up a trust account for the Hadfield children. Contributions can be made at any branch or mailed to Deseret Federal Savings, 95 N. University Ave., Provo, UT 84603.
Although Allan Hadfield was ordered to pay for his son's and daughter's psychotherapy as a condition of his probation, a third Hadfield child must also receive therapy three times a week with her two older siblings. All money raised will be used only to pay the costs of therapy, Soqui said.
Contributions sent earlier to a Lehi bank that was inadvertently advertised as trustee of the Hadfield children's account have already been deposited at Deseret Federal, Soqui said.