Takeaways from Leaked Abuse Case Summary for Church of Jesus Christ

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, Mormon Leaks published a two page document purporting to be a summary of abuse allegations against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 2012 compiled by the law firm Kirton McConkie. 

As you would expect, the unverified document is being shared on social media in sensationalistic terms. Understandably anytime possible information reveals sexual abuse, it should be of significant concern.

Is there anything in these documents revealing a pattern or cover up of sexual abuse? Here are my main takeaways.

When you hear there is a leak, you expect that the information was hidden for nefarious reasons. But anyone who’s been to a doctor knows that perfectly mundane information is not made public for privacy reasons. These documents appear to be of that sort. In order to publish them, more than sixty redactions had to be made for privacy reasons.

Between stake presidencies, bishoprics, and missionaries, there are about 170,000 individuals who could potentially be named as a perpetrator and implicate the Church. A significant portion of which are men between eighteen and twenty-five, the demographic most likely to commit sexual abuse. 

In fact, studies have put the number of college aged men of who have committed sexual assault as high as one in twenty-two, which is orders of magnitude higher than the rate seen in these documents. So as unfortunate as it is, given the large numbers we should expect that there will be some abuse allegations that implicate the Church.

According to the document, the Church is very legally compliant. In one case a missionary confessed to sexting a fifteen-year-old prior to leaving on his mission. The Church knew the Stake President was a mandated reporter, and would not consider asking for an exception. 

In another case, a missionary needed to complete community service after a physical confrontation with a man. The Mission President helped to make arrangements for the missionary to take care of his legal obligations.

Where appropriate, the Church is also helpful to the victims and their families. In addition to leaders generally working with the families, in one case the Church offered to cover all the counseling the victim needed. And it was the law firm the Church used that requested the victims’ names be protected in the document leak.

The Church does not protect sexually abusive missionaries. In every case in the documents the missionary had either already been dismissed as a missionary or the recommendation was to dismiss them as a missionary. 

Ultimately, if the documents prove accurate they paint a picture of an organization that is responsive to the few abuse claims they receive. They support victims, closely follow the laws, and punish perpetrators. 

While it is unfortunate that any instances of sexual abuse occur ever, the documents suggest that the Church of Jesus Christ deals with these instances responsibly.

Christopher D. Cunningham is the managing editor for Public Square Magazine and contributor to Third Hour. He loves emphatically celebrating the normal healthy development of his sons Albus and Whitman, writing about the Church of Jesus Christ, finding the middle ground on most controversies, and using Western Family generic brand lip balm. Christopher is a proud graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a resident of San Antonio, Texas.