Church guilty in New Zealand

crime excommunication

Okay, it’s a slow news week. There are about 5,000 stories about the “Mormon Missionary Calendar Creater Getting Axed,” but not much else going on in Mormondom. I did catch this article, though. This is one of those “sex offender tells religious leaders who cover it up” situations. This guy was pretty sick, preying on kids, adults, and even dogs. The LDS religion there knew about it for years but did nothing for years until they finally ex’d him. It wasn’t until after he was ex’d that he preyed again and was finally caught. The judge was none-too-kind to the LDS religion, saying they were clearly in the wrong and immoral here.

I’m not really pointing this out to say that the LDS religion is responsible for his behavior. They’re not. But they are responsible for his continued behavior, in the sense that they could and should have reported him, but didn’t, and he continued to prey on people. I’m sure we’ve hashed this out here before, but I thought people might find it interesting. (definitely a slow news week)

18 thoughts on “Church guilty in New Zealand

  1. I hope this one (and others like it)’Bite them in the – – -‘

    ‘it couldn’t happen to a better church’; the fact that this horrible situation was allowed to continue in the Catholic church put our guys on notice; but they’re accustomed to acting in a legalistic manner rather than an moral-ethical manner.
    Sorrows for all individuals concerned; that our society is warped regarding our sexuality, that many if not most don’t want to deal straightforwardly with sex & sexuality; that LDS Inc. presented sex as ONLY for procreation for decades, etc., and that we don’t have the cajones to deal with that in a productive fashion.

    A Pox on all your houses.

  2. Unfortunately this “in-house” dealing goes on everywhere. It happens often in politics, where party members will cover for others, pro-actively or by omission. I tire of reading these stories, because it happens so frequently, and I think it’s the tribal protective element at work. I think that if something can be dealt with in-house, and the problem resolved and stopped, there’s no need for the law to become involved, providing all parties agree to that, the offender and the offended. Let’s face it that this happens in families too, but in most cases I personally know of it was resolved within the family. Not many people will immediately want to haul a father, mother, son or daughter into a court at first offence.

    On the other hand I know of a local Catholic priest who was a “shining light” in the community, with a weekly column in the local paper. He was also a tireless community worker, but it came to the attention of the paper’s editor, through complaints by some teenage boys, that he used to get young teenage boys drunk, show them porn movies, then sexually assault them. When the complaints increased the editor reported him to police, and he was arrested. The Archbishop was accused of knowing of the crimes but did nothing. He eventually resigned, and the offending priest ended up committing suicide by carbon dioxide fumes in a locked car. All of this could have been avoided if dealt with in the early stages.

  3. I agree with Ray that this is more of an essentially human problem than a uniquely Mormon problem.

    But, nonetheless, I hope it is taken to heart and helps my Church handle this stuff more appropriately.

    Certainly, the LDS Church should be held at least partially responsible, and (assuming the facts are as reported) the judge was right to chastise them for it.

  4. Seth,Ray:

    what about the VICTIMS?
    it seems these ‘in house’ orgs are Only concerned with ‘their people’, doesn’t it?

  5. Guy,

    Seth,Ray:

    what about the VICTIMS?
    it seems these ‘in house’ orgs are Only concerned with ‘their people’, doesn’t it?

    In the NZ case the Church is clearly culpable. They did the wrong thing, and the Judge made this known. And as I said, this happens too often, but not just in churches. If it sounded like I was downplaying victims’ rights, then I gave the wrong impression. I’m not. Courts have to deal with far more details than the public knows, or you and I know.

    If this post turns into an LDS-bashing post, then I’m only pointing out that it’s unfair to single out LDS, without mentioning other cases where it happens too frequently, and can be attributed to human behaviour, not specifically “LDS behaviour”.

    Yeah, the leaders did the wrong thing in this case.

  6. Ray, you’re absolutely right. This isn’t a “Mormon-only” thing – lots of other groups have this problem. I just thought this one was interesting because it shows pretty clearly that the LDS are culpable.

  7. profxm,

    it shows pretty clearly that the LDS are culpable.

    I think a valid critical question is what is being done to prevent things like this happening in future. And whether the leaders involved in the NZ situation were reproved or counseled. I’m not sure how much training and advice bishops are given on how to handle situations like this.

    Fortunately I never encountered any situation as serious as this one. I do know of a couple of cases where leaders were aware of adulterous male P/H but turned a blind eye because of “high family connections”. One sister/wife involved complained for years about her husband’s “wanderings” but the leaders ignored her. “No proof.” Except her word. They didn’t believe he was capable of doing such a thing. They eventually caught up with him however, and he was dis-fellowshipped, not excommunicated (IIRC). She ended up leaving the Church and taking her two sons with her.

    The question regarding this and other serious violations is what are the leaders today taught? And how far does “confidentiality” go? I don’t recall anything in the CHI which advises leaders on what to do in cases where members are law-breakers, but I’d like to be corrected. Or maybe my memory is just faulty.

  8. Mormonism and its leaders have So Many technical, legalistic reasons for Not doing the right things….
    Kinda makes ya feel all warm & fuzzy, Doesn’t it?

  9. Kinda makes ya feel all warm & fuzzy, Doesn’t it?

    No, Guy, it in fact doesn’t make me feel all “warm and fuzzy”. But perhaps blanket condemnations of Mormons does make some feel warm and fuzzy?

  10. Ray:

    If LDS, Inc. choose to take steps to correct their goofs, I would be the First to cut them some slack….
    Instead, however, they Stonewall all criticism.
    this is another prime example of “Bunker Mentality”

  11. Can I ask a naive question? I understand that there’s an expectation of confidentiality when someone confesses to an ecclesiastical leader. If this is correct, when can that leader break that confidentiality in order to turn someone in for a crime?

  12. Definitely a question best answered by a lawyer, but my understanding is that they need do so when someone else’s safety is in immediate jeopardy. So, if someone says, “Sometimes I think about hitting my wife, but I never have and probably never will,” that’s probably not going to get passed on. But if someone says, “As soon as I get out of this interview I’m going to go beat my wife,” that should. Imminent threats are the criteria, if I’m understanding things correctly. But I’m not a lawyer.

  13. f LDS, Inc. choose to take steps to correct their goofs, I would be the First to cut them some slack….
    Instead, however, they Stonewall all criticism.
    this is another prime example of “Bunker Mentality”

    What’s really needed here, Guy, is a current leader (bishop/SP/whomever) who can directly answer these questions I and others have asked. A lack of proper training of bishops seems to be one problem. Possible omissions in the CHI is another. It’s a valid question I’d like answered: What do bishops do (official guidelines) when confronted with a situation as occurred in NZ? What does a bishop do when a member confesses to a lesser crime? “I stole $100 of hardware from a store two months ago, and I’ve repented, but if I try to return it I could still be charged with theft.” Or, “20 years ago, a year before I joined the Church, I raped a woman, and want to get this off my conscience. I’ve never done anything even like it since.” Does a bishop report the latter hypothetical situation to police? Where does confidentiality fit here, when the crime isn’t current?

    Maybe you have a simple answer. And this goes back to my question, are bishops adequately trained to deal with situations like this? From my experience, no.
    In my opinion, all new bishops should go through at least a week or two, or more, of thorough training. It may be a “bunker mentality” that this doesn’t happen, but it could also be plain stupidity, or perhaps a naive “pray about it” approach. It’s not easy being a bishop in situations like this, and having to make such crucial decisions.

  14. IMHO, the church AVOIDS standardization for any one of a number of reasons.
    Given the legalistic, highly detailed ways they’ve developed (if not ‘Perfected’), it’s easy to understand why.
    IF they did training, then that would suggest accountability – responsibility for what’s IN the training, and what was Omitted.
    With the Catholic scandals, the legal environment (once one of Complete Immunity) is changing toward more accountability-responsibility, and we ‘know’ which address in SLC doesn’t like or want THAT, don’t we?
    IOW, just easier to say/claim that leaders are ‘guided by the Spirit ™’

  15. Guy are we corporate, organized, standardized, and cookie-cutter?

    Or are we disorganized, irresponsible, individualistic, and diverse?

    Which is it? You’ve alternatively claimed both.

    I don’t really mind if you want to criticize, but I wish you’d make up your mind about what it is you are criticizing. Right now, I’m not sure even you have a clear picture of what it is you are criticizing.

    Sounds to me more like you are just trying to have it both ways. The Church sucks when it’s organized. And the Church sucks when it’s disorganized.

    Make up your freaking mind dude.

  16. Ray, you wrote: “I think that if something can be dealt with in-house, and the problem resolved and stopped, there’s no need for the law to become involved, providing all parties agree to that, the offender and the offended.”

    And also: “And how far does “confidentiality” go? I don’t recall anything in the CHI which advises leaders on what to do in cases where members are law-breakers, but I’d like to be corrected.”

    Well, I can answer that, I think. The CHI might not address it, but when I was a teenager my bishop was a lawyer, and before any interview he made it very clear that if he heard of any abuse he was legally obligated to tell the police – whether I was a victim or a perpetrator – but that everything else was confidential. I don’t know about stealing or murder, but I believe rape would fall into this category. If it’s 20 years old, the statute of limitations may have run out though (I don’t really know).

    Also, I don’t know what the laws in NZ are – this is just for the US.

  17. Seth #15:

    the church is standardized in many of the church things incl. the wrapping on the ‘doctrine’ package.
    The application of ‘church standards’ is most often a matter of local discretion (supposedly).
    The church puts on the appearance of local SP being ‘captains of their ships’, but they rarely think or go Outside the Box.
    I think that things rarely happen by ‘accident’ in Morland (exing of the calendar guy).
    COB/GAs LOVE holding & moving the strings that connect them to leaders & members, but when things go wrong, they claim anonymity )’Plausible Deniability’)

    Few things in as complicated organizations or in life in general are as Simplistic (100% one way or another) as you suggest.

  18. Well, I can answer that, I think. The CHI might not address it, but when I was a teenager my bishop was a lawyer, and before any interview he made it very clear that if he heard of any abuse he was legally obligated to tell the police – whether I was a victim or a perpetrator – but that everything else was confidential. I don’t know about stealing or murder, but I believe rape would fall into this category. If it’s 20 years old, the statute of limitations may have run out though (I don’t really know).

    Also, I don’t know what the laws in NZ are – this is just for the US.

    Thanks for that in-put rebecca. I would have done the same as a bishop. Protecting crime does not serve the interests of the Church, nor society. Many years ago I learned that a “good friend” of mine was involved in the gang-rape of a woman, but this was many years after it happened and we had long lost contact. My first thought was, “friend or no friend”, I would have gone to the police if I had known about it at the time. Such “friendships” aren’t worth having, and I would not have viewed this as betrayal. Hopefully, he has long personally reformed and regretted this, but I don’t know if that’s the case.

    Your bishop (when you were a teenager) is the sort of bishop the Church needs.

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