“It is a sobering responsibility to administer these sacred funds at Church headquarters.” 
“The sacred funds of the Church are carefully budgeted so that the expenditures never exceed the income.” 
“We will strictly tailor the program to the tithing income and use these sacred funds for the purposes designated by the Lord.” 
“Tithes are sacred funds” 
This is why I am completely bewildered as to why the church has offered a $250 settlement to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in lieu of thousands of incidents of abuse within LDS-sponsored troops.
And it’s not the first time the church has done something like this.
First, some background.
BSA sex abuse cases involving the church
As part of an overall bankruptcy case (Boy Scouts of America, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 20-10343), the BSA has claims from 82,500 victims of sexual abuse by its leaders.  Tim Kosnoff, the lawyer for 17,000 claimants, says that for context, 15-20% (or between 12,000 and 16,000) of the victims were in LDS Church-sponsored troops.  The Church is one of many organizations that fund (or funded) scouting activities and troops.
The Church’s $250 million settlement, combined with another $787 million coming from insurance group The Hartford, totals the settlement to $1.037 billion out of $1.887 billion available.  Combined, it is the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history. 
Tim Kosnoff, the lawyer for 17,000 of the victims, calls the $250 million settlement “inadequate” and “an opening offer.” While the BSA has accepted it, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein must approve it. Then it must be approved in a vote by at least 2/3 of the victims. 
About this settlement, the church says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuse of any kind. We express our love and concern for those who have experienced abuse through scouting or any other circumstance. This has been a prolonged process that included -- as one of many interested parties -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a former sponsoring organization. This contribution will provide opportunities to alleviate the suffering of those who've experienced abuse.” 
Kosnoff says he doesn’t think 2/3 of the claimants will agree.  250 million divided by 16,000 equals an average of $16,625 per LDS troop claimant. That’s the amount we’re talking about claimants who, in some cases, were anally raped for years.  One attorney for the claimants said, “While the sexual abuse inflicted upon the brave survivors in this case occurred, in some instances, many decades ago, it still feels as fresh as ever.” 
The length and breadth of church-involved sex abuse cases
The Perversion Files is maintained by the Los Angeles Times. It contains the actual paperwork of nearly 5,000 cases dating back as far as 1947, all derived from court records. Of those, about 1,900 case files with detailed information about the allegations can be viewed in the database. 86 are from Utah and 51 are from Idaho.
The earliest documented case in Utah dates back to 1976. A member of the Church was accused of molesting a scout in a tent while camping. According to the document, his Bishop knew about this and accusations involving other children, but “he feels that because of the confidential nature of his position as Bishop, he cannot release copies of this information.” These documents were called “ineligible volunteer records sheets.” 
Another from 1991 details a member of the church accused of child molestation. The documents says the scout leaders’ “ecclesiastical leader knew about accusations.” But “no charges were filed as the mother was talked out of it at the time by church leaders.” 
These instances of the church’s sweeping incidents under the rug and outright covering up are not unique. You’ll find them all throughout this online database.  And the database itself is incomplete; these are just some (likely not all) of the instances through 2004 which have been reported.
This isn’t the only database of abuse accusations against LDS leaders. Here’s a 316 page dossier for your consideration. Also, Protect LDS Children also has a database of over 1,000 more stories of child sexual abuse in the church.
Here are a few I’ve picked up along the way:
- 1962-1983: Ten LDS Idaho Scout leaders were accused of molesting Scouts or other youth.
- A combined 29 men sued the Boy Scouts and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in civil court, alleging that both the scouts and the church knew Scout leaders and volunteers were child molesters but intentionally kept that secret from families and law enforcement agencies.
- Of those 29 cases, 19 have settled, three are slated for trial, two have been dismissed and five are pending.
- More on this case here.
- 1980: Ross Harker allegedly sexually molests an underage girl. In July, 2016, he was called to serve as a bishop. According to Carlos Jansen, the former Raymond Stake President, “At that time the allegations were not known to us.”
- 1982-1983: Bishop Geoffrey James Powell sexually assaulted a seven year-old girl between January 1982 and January 1983. When the victim twice complained to the church, she was not believed and was chastised, and it was suggested she should move away if she felt uncomfortable. It's very interesting that the prosecutor specified that the church as an institution has a culture of blame. Powell was jailed and was eligible for parole after serving six months.
- Mid-1980s: An 18 year-old Raymond, Alberta man performed oral sex on an 8 year-old child and touched them inappropriately multiple times.
- The victim says the abuse stopped only when the man left Canada in the late 80’s on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
- 1987 confession
- While on a mission with the Mormon church in 1987, M said he became overwhelmed by guilt regarding the abuse and confessed to a mission president as well as a bishop.
- The two church leaders directed M to write letters of apology.
- The church instructed the abuser not to go to police, according to an Alberta judge who has rendered a decision in the case.
- "The Accused was specifically advised by church authorities not to report the matter to police," Judge Kubik wrote in her decision.
- Worthy to be a Bishop
- Eventually in 2016, M became a bishop in southern Alberta but never disclosed the sexual assaults to his stake president "because he had already dealt with these matters previously and had been told to forget them and to move on."
- M "had no doubt in his mind that he was worthy to be a bishop," the judge wrote.
- "His testimony in court demonstrated his view that the matter was closed for discussion; that he had paid the price already."
- The victim reported the abuse to police since church officials refused to remove him from the position, even though they were aware of the allegations.
- These findings are laid out in the decision of Lethbridge Justice Johnna Kubik, who convicted the now 51-year-old man on two counts of sexual assault.
- 1980s-1990s: Lowell Robinson
- Lowell Robison engaged in predatory sexual behaviors with several male cousins/BYU students. Christopher Swallow and his brother were two of his victims. Others have stepped forward with their accounts of sexual abuse.
- 1995: Lowell Robison was called to serve as President to the Mexico Leon Mission (1995-1998).
- When Christopher and his brother learned that Lowell Robinson had been called as a mission president, they met with Elder Earl C. Tingey (LDS General Authority) at LDS church headquarters to report Lowell Robison’s sexual abuse.
- Zero support was given to them as abuse victims. No change was made to Lowell Robison’s assignment. He served out a full term as mission president.
- Lowell Robinson passed away in March, 2018.
- 1993-2015 Sterling Van Wagenen
- Sexually assaulted a teenage boy in 1993, and was then hired by BYU as an adjunct professor of film. He later became BYU-TV’s Director of Content.
- He subsequently molested a girl younger than 10 on two occasions between 2013 and 2015, yet was still selected to produce three temple endowment movies in 2013.
- July 2019: Van Wagenen entered two guilty pleas involving the same victim, a young girl who reported that Van Wagenen abused her between 2013 and 2015, when she was between 7 and 9 years old. He was sentenced to six-years-to-life in prison for sexually abusing her. He will serve both sentences concurrently to the six-years-to-life sentence he received July 2, 2019, in Utah County for sexually abusing another young girl. The resolution was part of a plea deal, in which Van Wagenen admitted earlier this year to two child sex abuse charges in two separate courtrooms.
- 2001: The Church paid a $3 million settlement to Jeremiah Scott, after Scott filed a lawsuit in 1998 against the church for what his attorney described as an attempted cover-up of sexual abuse Scott suffered from church member Franklin Curtis. The Church denied legal liability in the case, and said it was settling the lawsuit based on "litigation economics" alone.
- 2005-2010: Former MTC doctor and Provo/Orem area bishop Dr. Richard B. Sampson attempts sexual abuse of a child (3rd degree felony), commits sexual abuse of a child (2nd degree felony) and lewdness involving a child (class A misdemeanor). He is convicted in May, 2018.
- Sept 2008: LDS Church bishop Timothy McCleve pleaded guilty to sexually molesting children from his ward. He was sentenced in December 2008 to one-to-15 year prison terms for the abuse.
- 2009-2010: Lone Peak High School (American Fork, UT) seminary principal Michael Pratt, 38, had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. He pleaded guilty in June to one count of forcible sodomy, two counts of object rape -- all first-degree felonies -- and one second-degree felony count of forcible sexual abuse. He was sentenced to up to life in prison. Where was local leaders' discernment while these abuses were taking place?
- 2010s: Bishop Erik Wayne Hughes is arrested in June, 2017 after having been charged with 20 counts of forcible sexual abuse, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of dealing in harmful materials to a minor and one count of witness tampering.
- 2020: Paul Adams of Bisbee, AZ confessed to his bishop, John Herrod, to molesting his young daughters (born on 2005 and 2015) during the course of their lives. He also videotaped those sexual encounters and distributed them on the internet. The bishop notified Kirton McConkie, but because of AZ law, law enforcement was not. When asked why he never called the police, Herrod explicitly stated that he had received instructions from the Church’s legal team in Salt Lake City not to report the abuse, but continue the one-on-one “counseling sessions” instead.
- Dec 2020: True to her word, the attorney for the children files a suit against the church for aiding in the obfuscation of the abuse from law enforcement authorities.
- A member told the media, "I was told to trust in the bishop and the church, and that the bishop and the church would take care of family and abuse issues, not the government or police." But the bishop never did.
- Mar 2010: Former LDS Church bishop Lon Kennard, Sr. was charged with 43 felony counts of sex abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and was imprisoned in Wasatch County, Utah. In November 2011, Kennard was sentenced to three terms of five-years-to-life in prison to be served consecutively, after pleading guilty to three first-degree felony counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child for sexually abusing his daughters.
- 2011: Susan Brock began serving a 13-year sentence for molesting a 14 year-old boy.
- Oct. 9 or Oct. 10, 2010: She admitted to LDS Bishop Matthew Meyers on that she had committed sex acts on the teen. Meyers is the bishop of the Brock's ward.
- Oct. 12 or 13, 2010: Meyers told Bishop Troy Hansen, the bishop of the victim's ward, that Brock had admitted to sexually abusing the boy.
- On Oct. 19, 2010: The boy and his father met with Hansen, and the boy disclosed the full extent of the abuse. Hansen, Holmberg said, learned the abuse was far worse than Susan had described.
- Neither bishop went to police.
- On Oct. 22, 2010: "tired of waiting," the father and the victim went to the Chandler AZ police, Susan Brock was arrested.
- The Mormon church has said from the beginning the bishops acted properly.
- "Arizona law is clear that no priest can disclose any confession even when it concerns child abuse," Kim Farrah, church spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Nevertheless, Church leaders worked effectively within the law, and with those involved, to facilitate prompt reporting to the police while protecting the victim."
- Clergy are required to report abuse under state law, but they have more discretion than other mandatory reporters such as teachers or doctors, according to the statute.
- The Arizona statute on reporting crimes says clergy "may withhold" information, even child abuse, learned during a confession
- The former stake president, Mitchell Jones, knew that the victim's parents suspected child abuse at least a year before the arrest. He had the option to interview the boy, but chose not to."
- Nov 2013: Bishop Michael Wayne Coleman had sexually graphic conversations and an exchange of nude photographs with a teenaged student in Brazil. He was later arrested and charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation after a forensic examination of his laptop and cellphone revealed the evidence.
- Dec 2013: Bishop Todd Michael Edwards was sentenced to three years in prison for molesting two teenage girls who attended his congregation in Menifee, CA. Edwards received two concurrent sentences of three years in prison for two felony counts of sexual battery and sexual penetration with a foreign object. A felony charge of witness intimidation was dismissed as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors after Edwards pleaded guilty.
- June 2014: Bishop Erik Hughes sexually abused two teenage boys from his congregation in Mapleton, Utah. The abuse occurred in June 2014 during his tenure as bishop. Hughes received concurrent 1-15 year prison sentences on the sexual abuse counts, and 0–5 years in prison for witness tampering.
- 2016-2019: Bishop Jeffrey Byron Head was accused of inappropriately touching juveniles and discussing masturbation with children of various ages. He was found guilty of:
- Sexual battery, reduced from a second-degree felony reduced to a class A misdemeanor
- Attempted forcible sexual abuse, third-degree felony
- Lewdness, first or second offense, class B misdemeanor
- Lewdness, first or second offense, class B misdemeanor
- August 2019: Head is sentenced to four months in jail after being found guilty of sexual abuse of one teenage boy and lewdness with another.
- 2017-2018: Utah church member Benjamin Alyk says he told LDS leaders about his child porn obsession — including how he made and distributed images of kids as young as 4 — and they didn’t report him to police.
- He went to LDS leaders in 2017 — after traveling to the Dominican Republic a year earlier — and confessed to everything.
- The church allegedly refused to make a report to law enforcement.
- His disciplinary hearing was held in June 2017, just eight months before he turned himself in to the Davis County Attorney’s Office in 2018.
- Aug 2019: Additional charges were filed against Bishop David Kenneth Shurtz for sexual abuse against two of his granddaughters, one 1st degree felony charge, two 2nd degrees for aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a child.
- Sept. 2019: Jeff Ranstrom (Star First Ward, Star Idaho Stake) pleaded guilty to five felony counts including rape, sexual battery of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, and burglary. He admitted to having a 'lengthy' sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl/student. At the time of his arrest, Ranstrom was a school teacher, basketball coach and Elders Quorum Secretary.
- Oct 2019: Timothy James Hallows, 61, of Kaysville, UT and a Utah bishop, was arrested after he was reported for distributing child pornography and told investigators he took pictures of children while on camping trips in his role as Bishop.
- Oct 2019: 64-year-old High Councilman Matthew Hack is charged with four counts of lewd acts and one count of oral sodomy on a six year-old girl, his granddaughter.
- Nov. 2019: Alfred Frances Cote, a local LDS leader, was arrested on more than a dozen charges alleging he sexually abused two boys over three years. The BSA placed him on their Confidential File for IMMORAL ACTS WITH SCOUTS back in 1984. His BISHOP knew of these acts.
- Mar 2020: Mountain View, CA police arrest full-time missionary Hayden Hunter on suspicion of child pornography as well as for distribution of child pornography.
- June, 2020: Joseph Neipp, 72, is accused of sexually abusing two sisters between 2009 to 2016 and Jane Doe 2 was abused from 2012-2016. He is currently facing criminal charges for child sex abuse in the Santa Clara County Superior Court, according to a press release.
- At the time, Neipp was serving as the Bishop of the San Jose, CA Branham Ward.
- A civil lawsuit was also filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, claiming the Church could have prevented the abuse by the former bishop.
- “In his actual or apparent authoritative capacity as the bishop of the Branham Ward, Neipp repeatedly engaged in inappropriate grooming behavior with children during Primary classes and on or around ward events including allowing small children to sit on his lap, and transporting plaintiffs and other young children alone in his vehicle to ward activities,” the lawsuit alleges.
- June, 2020: Scott Darrington, 54, was arrested Thursday (June 11) by the Lyon County Sheriff's Office.
- At the time of his arrest, he was the vice principal of Yerington Intermediate School and Bishop of the Yerrington Ward.
- He was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and one charge of distributing materials depicting pornography involving a minor. His bail was set at $80,000.
- Investigators said there is no indication that there are any local victims, including students or staff.
- In August 2020, 62-year old David Farley underwent investigation for numerous counts of sexual molestation of his medical patients (some of them minors) in his Portland, OR medical practice or in his personal home’s bedroom
- August 6, 2020: Farley voluntarily gives up his license after the medical board.
- August 12, 2020: In a letter to patients, Farley resigns from his medical practice. The real reason why is never disclosed to letter recipients.
- October 2020: Former patients file a civil lawsuit last month against Farley as well as his West Linn clinic and the hospitals where he worked, alleging Farley engaged in sexual abuse and battery and the places he worked were negligent in concealing his misconduct.
- Police are now investigating facts for a possible criminal case.
- Farley was well-respected in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he had been a bishopric member and stake high counselor.
Which brings us to last week
In the week of Sept 12-18, 2021, two instances of sexual assault by a bishop made the news:
On September 15, 2021, we learned that Dylan Kevin Whiting, 33, of Nampa, ID had been arrested in April. Whiting had “served as a lay bishop [of Nampa’s 30th Ward] in the LDS church from December 2019 until January 2021, when he was removed from his position after the church became aware of allegations against him, according to a church spokesperson.” 
“According to an affidavit from the Nampa Police Department, the two individuals in Whiting’s case are known to him personally rather than through his church involvement. The abuse allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2020,” while he was serving as bishop. 
“Whiting has been charged with touching two underage girls in a sexual manner, according to a criminal complaint. Lewd conduct with a minor is punishable by up to life in prison, while child sexual abuse is punishable by up to 25 years.” 
In response, the church said in a press release, “Upon learning of these allegations in early January, Church officials immediately took steps to remove this individual from his lay leadership position in the Church. Abuse of any kind is not tolerated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyone who engages in such behavior is rightfully subject to criminal prosecution and also faces discipline from the Church, including loss of Church membership.” 
Then on September 16, 2021, it was disclosed that a former Latter-day Saint bishop had been accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl during a girls camp. James Douglas Robinson, 63, was charged Thursday in Duchesne, UT County's 8th District Court with forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. 
The alleged incident happened in June at Reid Ranch Resort in Hanna, Duchesne County. A 15-year-old girl said she was alone in a kitchen area when Robinson, her church bishop at the time, approached her from behind, "pinning her to a kitchen counter," and inappropriately touched her over her clothing, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. 
I’m not sure why it took a month to notify police (in July) and another month for the victim to be interviewed (August). But the investigating sergeant wrote that during the course of this investigation, he learned that Robinson had moved to Idaho.
"The church reported these allegations to law enforcement as soon as they were brought to the attention of local leaders and the individual was immediately released from his leadership position to allow him to focus on his legal defense," church spokesman Sam Penrod said in a statement. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and is awaiting the outcome of this case in the legal system before commenting any further." 
Regarding the church’s statement:
- I’m amazed at the church’s utter disregard for concern regarding the victim.
- Robinson “was immediately released from his leadership position to allow him to focus on his legal defense"? It would have been better if the church had said, "The church takes these allegations seriously. Given the circumstances, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to release Mr. Robinson from his calling and allow the appropriate legal process to play out."
- I am glad the Church worked with law enforcement. This is a step forward, improving the likelihood of a just and accurate investigation. Or perhaps the family contacted law enforcement first, and the church had no choice.
Both Whiting and Robinson are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. My heart breaks for these victims, and I hope they can eventually gain a measure of peace in their lives after undergoing these horrific instances.
With all these atrocities committed over decades, how can any rational parent know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's safe to have your child alone with a youth organization leader? I mean, if they're potentially not safe around a bishop, then who can they be safe around?
But another issue remains.
In the hyperlinked list above, I spotlighted cases involving full-time missionaries, bishops, a high councilman, a seminary teacher, mission presidents and the director of the church's temple films. The common denominator in these last two reports – as well as many of the ones mentioned above – is that the cases involved actively-serving Bishops, who:
- “Has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation”
“We have more than eleven thousand bishops in the Church. Every one is a man who has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and set apart and ordained by the laying on of hands.” 
- “Are respected by the Lord, inspired by His Spirit, and given the powers of discernment [judgment] necessary to their office.”
“The offices of bishop and branch president and counselors are sacred in this Church. The men who hold those offices are respected by the Lord, inspired by His Spirit, and given the powers of discernment [judgment] necessary to their office.” 
- Are “prayerfully” recommended by a stake president and approved by the First Presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve.
“When the stake president feels directed to release a bishop, he fasts and prays for inspiration to know whom the Lord has chosen as his replacement. When he feels he has identified the Lord’s choice, the stake president then sends a recommendation to the First Presidency for approval. (There’s actually a form the stake president fills in and sends to the First Presidency.) The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then prayerfully consider the person recommended by the stake president. Once the person recommended is approved, the stake president can extend the call to the potential bishop and ask his wife for her support. If he is worthy and accepts the call, the new bishop is then presented to the ward for their sustaining vote and is ordained and set apart, usually by the stake president.” 
We are told that “We are blessed with revelation; the Church is built upon that foundation.”  We are also told that God is omniscient (knows all things) and has an overabundance of love for his children.
In my opinion, there is a disconnect somewhere in that last paragraph:
- Does God delight in the sexual abuse of his children?
- Does God delight in such abuse being perpetrated by church leaders?
- As demonstrated by their actions, do his church’s leaders share these same values?
- If the church is built on the foundation of revelation, then why do church leaders consistently call men to be a bishop who would go on to abuse children during his term of office?
Here’s how the church might respond to my questions above:
“The LDS Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the LDS Church’s approach is the gold standard."
The actual “Gold Standard,” in my opinion, is The Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network's "We Won’t Let it Happen Here: Creating a Child Safe Church" program. It says that "Minimally, churches should have:
- An ongoing plan for educating the congregation and its leaders on the reality of child abuse, risk factors leading to child abuse, and prevention strategies.
- Procedures for screening staff and volunteers.
- Safety procedures for church activities.
- A directory of resources for children who have been abused and their families.
The church -- especially its local wards and stakes – generally have none of these precautions.
So, you tell me: Where is the inspiration and revelation that serves as the foundation of this church? Where are the policies which supersede, and are superior to, those of the Presbyterians?
Could it be that they either don’t exist, or they’re coming from a source that delights in the perpetual abuse of children?
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” 
We all know the destiny of the abusers. But what could be the fate of those who, FOR DECADES, have covered up abuse with ecclesiastical pressure, hush money and non-disclosure agreements, guilt shamed and gaslighted victims, involved lawyers before law enforcement and let perpetrators not only go on to abuse again, but also placed them again in positions of trust?
…AND proposes paying out $250 million in legal settlement money, when that allocation could have been prevented had leaders truly had discernment?
What’s their fate?
Is the worth of souls REALLY that great to the Church?
1. J. Richard Clarke, "Successful Welfare Stewardship," October 2978 General Conference
2. Spencer W. Kimball, "The Law of Tithing," October 1980 General Conference
3. Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Condition of the Church," April 2003 General Conference
4. Franklin D. Richards, "The Law of Abundance," April 1971 General Conference
15. New Era, October, 2011
16. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:282.
17. Matthew 18:6