Mormon bishops are persecuted in Utah. seriously, everytime I read the comments
on an article like this I marvel at the moral ambiguity of the mormon culture.
Why is the bishop being singled out for prosecution? This was not an incident
done in a conner, but was at a public activity? Were there not any adults at
that activity? Why are they not at least as liable for reporting the incident
as the bishop?
This seems overdoing it. The abuse case has been dismissed. I do not think
that there is grounds to chage people for failure to report if there is not a
clear case of wrongdoing.
"Siufanua said charges against Rojas will send a message about the
importance of reporting abuse, regardless of whether the report is
accurate."So, they are charging the Bishop to send a message?
I would think you would charge the Bishop because there is a crime.
Clark Kent, The above story stated that the bishop was exempt from the
requirements of the law if it was done as a confession and not corroborated by
one of the victims. If that statement in the article is correct, then there was
nothing to charge the bishop with.
Another important consideration is that the child who reports abuse could have
been the victim of on-going abuse for some time, by someone else other than the
alleged perpetrator because he/she is upset with or dislikes someone and claims
"abuse" to get even. However, the clergyman is still obligated to
report the alleged abuse.
He was the Lord's servant so he should never be prosecuted for this.
"Rifleman | 6:11 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 Salt Lake City, UtahI find
it interesting that this girl didn't report this incident to her mother or
father in which case they should have gone to the police."Rifleman shows the glaring judgement put down on potential victims. Let me
enlighten you, sometimes victims of abuse don't tell their parents
because....they blame themselves and are in fear that their parents will not
believe them or blame them. This is why Bishops are to report crimes, it is in
the handbook, stop blaming victims.
I have to say that I agree with the comment that in today's world, you're taking
heavy risks if you do anything involving minors. Many of them are not
emotionally stable (let alone possessing common sense) and all it takes is one
accusation . . . and YOU ARE TOAST. The system will automatically believe that
the child is telling the truth, and you're never in a position to deny anything.
But, there are cases where serious things happen and someone chooses to sweep
it under the rug and let it go, based on their relationships or their reluctance
to get involved in anything having to do with any kind of confrontation. It's
tough territory, and my heart goes out to anyone who's brave enough to work with
any youth in today's world. It's just big-time risk, and with the wrong set of
circumstances, they can throw the key away and your life is basically over.
Regarding your post, "oldschool": The probable reason that the cases
you mentioned were not processed completely is because they didn't involve SEX.
In our sex-obsessed society, sex is the only thing we take seriously. That's
why we have a sex-offender registry, but no registry for drug dealers, drug
manufacturers, embezzlers, burglars, robbers, batterers, wife beaters, or even
murderers. The system and the society are all about dealing with (and going
ballistic over) SEX . . . hence the destroyed lives of young teachers who get
involved with students (always the "victims"), when many other
dangerous people get a slap of the wrists. Gotta have the sex involved, or it
dumprake . . . You are absolutely right. There is actually no moral or ethical
standard or requirement for police personnel and/or prosecutors to obtain or
keep their jobs. They often like to get points any way they can, and it doesn't
bother many of them at all if they arrive at the wrong conclusions or punish an
innocent victim and ruin lives. Also, society continues to cling to the idea
that "children never lie," when anyone who knows children knows that
they come up with all kinds of things for attention, or for vengeance. Turning
the dogs loose on someone without taking a hard look at probable facts is asking
of a long, drawn-out disaster in most cases. I've spent a quarter century
working with all levels of government, and because it has no competition and is
based on politics, government is usually not the solution that naive people
think it is.
I think many people here just don't get it. The law is very clear in Utah. If
anyone has reason to suspect child abuse or neglect they are required to report
it. Anyone means everyone. It is not just professionals, it is everyone in the
state. When a child tells you they were abused, you have reason to
suspect. The law does not give you the luxury of being judge and jury and
deciding it isn't true. Yes there are false reports, but it is up to the police
and DCFS to sort that out. No one has the right to cover this stuff up. And besides breaking the law, this Bishop should be released for being
insubordinate to the President of the Church. You can't just ignore the mandate
from the prophet to report all abuse just because you don't want to. If he had
called the help line, they would have told him to report the incident.
Too bad my old neighbor can't be a bishop. She was really good at calling the
Random thoughts after reading through comments:1) The related law is in
the Utah Criminal code: 62a-4a-403 & 411 and probably more. Learn how to
look it up, it's just a google search away.2) The rub in the law seems to
be in the wording "has reason to believe" and how does it apply.3) I don't think the issue is whether or not the Bishop should have reported
it (he clearly should have based on Church policy) but whether or not the state
should be prosecuting him for failure to report a non-crime that they themselves
determined not to pursue. They might as well prosecute the DA for failure to
prosecute a non-crime then. How come the DA gets a pass when ultimately the jury
decides guilt or innocence? Seems to me the DA should be under the same
requirement to "report the incident" to the Jury by prosecuting the
Clearly the Bishop should have reported it to the Police to follow the
handbook.bBut, sooner or later someone with a brain is going to
have to evaluate the situation and make a decision. Our legal system is over
loaded with everything. We need more, not less, people willing to help people
make good decisions.
Even if the bishop was to report this, would it have changed the charges against
the man who groped the girl? Not to say the bishop did the right thing, but the
justice system is screwed up for a victim of sexual assault...even if it seemed
@ Pat: That would depend on the laws of the state in which the event takes
place.In the state of Utah a child who is 17 can legally consent to
sex with someone who is within 10 years of their age. In your scenario, a
"sin" may have occurred, but not a crime.
The reputation of the Catholic Church was not ruined by child sex abuse or
allegations of child sex abuse - the reputation of the Catholic Church was
ruined because they failed to act upon the reports they received. It is not the right, duty, or responsibility of a church to investigate
allegations of abuse - it is the duty and responsibility of a church to report
all such allegations to the proper authorities.The Mormon Church
knows this and has given clear cut guidelines to their members who are in
positions of authority. The Bishop in question failed to follow Church
procedure which included a failure to follow the law - if he had done as
instructed by the Church, he would have avoided this situation.The
fact that hindsight shows that there is not enough evidence for the police to
pursue the matter does not change the requirements of the Church or the law.(I find it bizarre that some posters claim only haters expect members of
the Church to follow the rules of the Church.)
The final sentence in this article states: "A clergyman who learns of
abuse from the confession of the perpetrator is not liable unless they also
receive information from the alleged victim."Question: What if a young man
and young lady both age 17 (i. e. both minors/ children) confess consensual sex
to their clergyman. But, I don't believe a minor / child can consent to sex.
So, both are not only perpetrators but also victims. Would the clergyman be
required to report the "sexual abuse" to the authorities?
Keith43 - Thank you. Simply stated. When the perpetrator is good friends with
the bishop, that friendship needs to be put aside and the bishop needs to act in
accordance with Church guidelines. For a bishop to ignore a young girl because
he doesn't believe it is entirely unacceptable.
@keith,skeptic and a few others.I appreciate your "opinion" on
this issue, though your hatred bleeds through like a leaky hose.So in
light of the fact that you were'nt present at the visit between the bishop and
the young woman, try to not presume to have all the answers.Those refering
to this incident as a Utah thing or special indulgance given because of that,
read the other article about the Catholic priest who was found to have hundres
of nude child porn pictures on his computor. And the Catholic Arch bishop who
did nothing to report it.And the headline says Catholic priest avoid
prosecution...because from now onthey both promised to report anything and
to monitor the priest's behavior.But they both will remain in their
positions of authority.I didn't see any of you keyboard critics even
comment on that article.Can't imagine why.
If a young woman or young man voluntarily comes to their bishop to report an
alleged abuse, it must be handled in accordance within Church guidelines
(handbook), and state law. There's no debate - it's as simple as that. And the
bishops know this. There's no excuse.
Re: teleste | 11:35 p.m. Nov. 15, 2011 Provo, UT Sometimes it is
impossible to have a meaningful discussion with someone who lives with ignorant
stereotypes. When one's world is defined through the distorted prism of
perceiving a person of your political/social opposite (i.e. liberal or
progressive) as "evil socialist" and not having the dignity of being a
fellow human being, is it any wonder than nothing can get done.Let's
leave the religious bigotry aside, open your eyes, and see that such comments
have no place in the conversation. Criticism of negligent behavior in an
individual does not translate into criticism of the entire community.Do only "conservatives" have the keys to what is right in the world?
Do only "conservatives" stand for principle and the good that we all
desire for ourselves and for others? Some may say "yes", but they
live in a bubble of loneliness and despair. When a person can only be happy
with others who think and live exactly as they do, then you have a Stepford
world which only evokes sadness.
So a bishop thinks a girl might have been accidentally touched and then gets
charged even though he has no "reason to believe that a child has been
subjected to abuse or neglect"? And yet the state is too busy to follow up
on legitimate reports of neglect! Some teachers at an elementary school here in
Utah told my wife that they won't call the state anymore because their reports
"never do any good" and are sometimes ignored altogether. Recently a
child said he was forced to sleep outside in subzero weather because of some
minor infraction. The teacher told my wife that she would not report it to the
state because she had never seen any followup on several reports, and even when
it was obvious that the child's welfare was in danger, the child was allowed to
stay in the home with the offending parent. In one case a girl told a teacher
that her mother had stabbed her, and then showed the wound. It was reported.
The state looked into it and left her in the home. My wife talked with a state
attorney about these and other reports, and he said the state was underfunded.
@ anti-liar: Yes, the investigation was a draw - there was not enough evidence
one way or the other - but the Bishop did not know that.The
allegation was cause to suspect something had occurred - he should have reported
This whole situation has me worried. Who wants to serve in primary or the young
men/young women program at all if your reputation can be destroyed by a false
accusation. Just one youth can get mad at you, create a situation, and then the
bishop HAS TO call the police, YIKES!!!
Any females on this comment board? Any females who have been groped, grabbed,
assaulted, etc.?Many men seem to find such an incident as of no
significance. Wonder why?
@skeptic - because there are so many bishops and providing this training would
be difficult there are help lines established by the church to assist. The other
thing is if the bishop would have followed the handbook this article doesn't get
written and i'm not wasting my time posting this.Your point is valid
but logisically its difficult. That is why the handbook and the helpline are
So a Bishop should not be held accountable for not reporting abuse, but Joe
Paterno should? Consistency, people, consistency ....________________This is Utah friend... Paterno isn't LDS.I just keep waiting for people to start attacking the little girls
My daughter went to the Bishop AND Stake President because of inappropriate
things that her father did to her. It was heart-wrenching for her to relive the
traumatic experiences as she explained what happened. Neither one of them did a
thing. The Stake President said there was nothing he could do because there
were no witnesses. Neither one reported it. What message did they send to her?
If something were to happen in the future, would she feel comfortable going to
her leaders? Not only did they not report it, they gave him a recommend to
marry in the temple.
From one Mormon to another: If you have a person who suspects that she has been
abused and reports it to you, REPORT IT TO POLICE! Do not sit on the information
over the fact that perhaps it did not happen or that he is a good member of the
ward etc. You can still report it to the police along with church authorities
which you have a special number as a leader to call in those instances. Merely
sitting on the information will bring you trouble and perhaps jail. The police
probably has the ability to keep it under wraps while they investigate. That way
you can protect a possible innocent party. How many times does our society have
to go through this before the 101 lesson is learned?
To Rifleman | 9:12 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 Salt Lake City, Utah Re:
Keith43 | 9:01 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 "the victim must be potected from
further abuse"Wouldn't a 13-year old victim's mother and father
normally be the first line of defense? I question whether we are being told the
whole story here. ---------------------Given your
assertion, a more pertinent question would be this -- why didn't the child feel
safe talking with her parents about what happened to her.
If it was determined that there was no reasonable evidence to prove guilt, why
does the legal system now want to prosecute a citizen that is trying his best to
serve the community for a crime not committed? And the police want
us to help them? With these "Brown Shirt" tactics, we are going to see
more people afraid to get involved and hate law enforcement authorities with a
passion.Teaching people lessons and throwing them in jail for errors
in judgment is not the best way to make our communities safer.
It doesn't matter if the bishop didn't believe the allegations or not. That's
not his call to make in this situation. Whether the bishop believes the charges
or not, it's his duty to report them to the police to sort out. That's not
behaving like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, it's reporting possible sexual abuse.
The fact that somebody would think it's okay to not say something when there is
even the possibility of abuse sickens me.In this case, the police
determined that there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute the claims. That's
very different from saying that the perpetrator is innocent of the charges.
Regardless, whether it happened or not, the bishop had the responsibility to go
to the police with the allegations, and he didn't.
It could be possible there is more to the story. IF the bishop did contact the
hotline right after the discussion with the girl and received legal advice there
should be a record of the discussion and of the advice given. The hotline is
available to bishops 24/7 and gives them access to lawyers experienced in these
Re: Trooper55 | 10:52 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 "maybe the Stake President
should step down"It's always nice to know the facts before
deciding to send someone to jail. There are even those who might go so far as
to suggest and trial and conviction before handing down sentence.
So a Bishop should not be held accountable for not reporting abuse, but Joe
Paterno should? Consistency, people, consistency ....
Re: ClarkKent | 9:09 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 "I wonder why that Bishop
wasn't charged?""priestpenitent privilege" otherwise
known as clergy privilege or confessional privilege applies to a confession by a
perpetrator to clergy. This confidentiality does not apply when it is the
victim goes to clergy.The bishop who heard the confession of the
father you referred to had no responsibility to go to the police.
I guess now maybe the Church in a whole should be looked into maybe the Stake
President should step down, or maybe you should clean your own house before you
comdens what happen to Penn. State. I would lioke to see more article about this
problem being brought tolife and palster all over the paper like you did with
Penn State.Maybe the Bishop and Stake President should be brought up on this
cover up. I don't believe this will happen though. It might look bad for the
church and they too are look up to by the youth.
The sad thing is that Police has nothing but the harshest methods in these
cases... Once again this makes more and more paranoya in the over stressed
American society. It is like shouting "wolf" in the forest till no one
comes. I have ZERO tolerance on abuse, but where does one draw the line when
consenting teen agers are involved? Where is the room for repentance and
where/how can the parents help/ the bishop help/ all this is doing is that less
and less teens will talk. There has to be room for the bishop to consider what
is right... perhaps with the parents. The police is not the answer, just an end
solution. Too bad that money matters too much. Large organizations are an easy
prey to the vicious lawyers and need to protect themselves with strict rules...
Why does nobody consider the Bishop in this case, perhaps he did the right thing
I have some difficulty in the "religion" of only trusting police and
government authorities. It's like if you have a small fire in your backyard,
don't try to put it out or ask your neighbor to help you, call the fire
department. Having been a bishop, I understand this issue clearly,
and the government and the police, being distant from the event, never has as
good a perspective on what should be done, as do church leaders who are there.
Nobody wants to hide or protect inappropriate behavior, but to assume everything
is a criminal act and should be reported, borders on Nazi Germany and the
indoctrination to get everybody to spy and snitch on their neighbor--because the
government says so. I trust the church a thousand times more than I trust the
government or the police.
I actually think the bishop shouldn't be prosecuted IF he didn't report the
incident because he felt the alleged action didn't occur. While I understand
that we need to protect children I think we also should be allowed to use some
degree of personal judgment before we throw someone into the hands of law
enforcement. The reality is that false allegations happen A LOT-a police
officer once told me 50% of the sexual assault cases he had responded to were
false accusations. While I wish we could catch 100% of real crimes I also think
the impact of false accusations are terrible-ripping families apart, ruining
careers and even sometimes imprisonment of the innocent. The bishop in this
case may have used his personal judgment to conclude the accusations were false
and thus far it appears he was right-I would say to drop the charges against the
Rifleman, you're right in some cases. But, believe it or not, more times than
not, the father is the perpetrator; and, believe it or not,many times the mother
has full knowledge of what's going on. It can be a very complex issue within a
family setting. Typically, the perpetrator is removed from the home. But,
often times, it is necessary that the child be removed from the family.
Several of you are forgetting the testimony of one other person.....the
bishop.How 'bout we get off our "know all-see all" attitudes and
let the legal system run it's course.The fact that charges were dropped,
sends one message and that there was a witness saying it was accidental doesn't
let anybody off the hook.But it does tell me that there is more to this
story, or maybe less.So put yer hangin' ropes away and give this bishop
the chance to defend himself.
I'm all for going crazy when real abuse takes place. Really. Fire everyone at
Penn State.But trying to turn Americans into the Gestapo is WAY out
of control. The Bishop used his best judgement. That is better than a Police
Officers best judgement.Really. Think about it.When
everyone is trying to catch someone to report them our community gets worse.
Re: Keith43 | 9:01 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011 "the victim must be potected
from further abuse"Wouldn't a 13-year old victim's mother and
father normally be the first line of defense? I question whether we are being
told the whole story here.
@Keith43, I think, unfortunately, that this frequently happens. If I recall
correctly, there was a famous family of 5 children in Utah where the adult
female finally went to the police about their father's abuse to prevent him from
abusing other girls. It was reported that the father had gone to his Bishop,
yet it was the girls who went to the police, not the Bishop. I wonder why that
Bishop wasn't charged?
The mear fact that the young woman had the courage to come forward and report
the incident to her bishop, is reason enough that the bishop should have
reported it, In such instances, it's not his place as the "judge in
Israel", to make a unilateral decision to not report the incident. At a
minimum, he should have consulted with his Stake President; who I'm sure would
have directed him to call the Church hotline. While a bishop, I had only one
case of this nature. The girl had been abused for an extended period of time by
two members of her family. It was a courageous decision on her part, to come
forward at all because her family was active, deeply involved and well-liked in
the ward. In spite of this family's involvement, she came forward anyway. One
can only imagine the pain she must have been in. A point that must
also be made, is that where abuse has in fact occurred, the victim must be
potected from further abuse - as well as others. Because, often times there has
been a long history of the abuse of others.
Mormons boast that their church has lay clergy. However, the position of Mormon
bishop can have an important and influencial influence in a community. Perhaps,
it would be to the communities and the church's benefit to have requirements for
bishops to attend (and be certified) a public training school or program.
Can any of you possibly envision a situation where you are a grown man
ACCIDENTALLY touching the front of a shirt of a teenage girl? Lets get real
here ... Men who aren't pedofiles NEVER accidentally touch a child where they
shouldn't be touched. It just doesn't happen.
"Utah law requires that when someone "has reason to believe that a
child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or who observes a child being
subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse
or neglect, that person shall immediately notify the nearest peace officer, law
enforcement agency, or office of the division."Does anyone know
if the author has correctly report this law? The way it is worded it would
apply to ANYONE? Is that correct?
Getting groped at a church function - Yeah children shouldn't have to worry
about that kind of stuff. A male at the age of 30 should not be touching any
girl at a church function period. I wouldn't make any excuses for this guy, as
either way you look at it, innocent or not, he shouldn't have been doing that.
teleste:Congratulations on lowering a serious incident involving the
safety and welfare of a minor to that of the venom of party politics. Why exactly do you feel the need to assume this is going to be a rally cry
against religion, Mormonism, or President Bush? If anything, you are trying to
pick a fight where one does not exist. If anything you are trying to create a
red herring in an attempt to distract people from what is important here.What matters is that an 'individual' who has a legal and ethical
responsibility to protect a minor, failed in his duty. Whether that person be
Bishop, Priest, (or even family friend) the failure is his, but it is made worse
because of the trust placed in him because of his calling.So again,
why do you feel the need to drag this into the realm of politics?
I find it interesting that this girl didn't report this incident to her mother
or father in which case they should have gone to the police.
---teleste | 11:35 p.m. Nov. 15, 2011 Provo, UTCue all the liberals
blaming religion, Mormonism---The handbook is there not only to
protect victims of crime but to protect bishops and their counselors. Follow
the handbook that the Brethren have put together to protect everyone and keep
the LDS Church from the situation the Catholic Church found itself in with
systematic covering up of abuse. Following the handbook would have kept this
bishop out of legal trouble and not give opportunity to have anyone say anything
more about this. Follow the handbook and let the legal process work itself out.
I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would want to be a Bishop? Long hours
away from family, personal liability in situations such as this, endlessly
hearing confessions of things you likely have zero expertise to handle, etc. Of
course I also can't figure out why anyone would run to their Bishop and confess
something to their neighbor who likely has zero expertise to help you anyway.I have to admit, the day I allowed logic and common sense to become part
of the equation for evaluating what I think of religious matters is the day the
"shelf" started to collapse. Sometimes I long for the days when I
could just "bow my head and say yes" but once you cross that divide
you never see things the same again. For me, what we do, say and believe in the
name of religion is becoming more silly, perplexing and nonsensical to me by the
It seems we've got two very different standards going on here: one, what the
police sergeant said, "when you receive a complaint of abuse," and
two, the law itself: "...has reason to believe that a child has been
subjected to abuse or neglect." (And the Church's own instructions are to
follow the law.) I think I'm going to have to advocate for Rojas on
this one. Based on what the investigators found out -- that it was a perfectly
innocent accident -- is it unreasonable to consider the distinct possibility
that in the course of his interview with the girl himself, Rojas, too, had no
"reason to believe" that actual abuse had, in fact, taken place?
@telesteA little sensitive are we?This liberal says that
the perpetrator should rot in jail. This liberal also says that if the Bishop
did not follow instructions as dictated by his Stake President and other
leaders, he needs to be held accountable for that. Hmm, didn't meet
your stereotype, did I?
Cue all the liberals blaming religion, Mormonism, and George Bush for this
incident in 3, 2, 1...
Report the allegations, it is in the handbook Bishop.