Utah firm and legislators helped Mormons hide abuse

Three children sexually abused by their father .

In court filings released Wednesday in Cochise County, Arizona, the children of the late Paul Adams named Republican state Rep. Merrill F. Nelson and law firm Carton McConkie as defendants in a lawsuit against the Church. I asked the judge for permission to add. Commonly known as the Mormon Church.

The lawsuit accuses the Mormon Church of failing to notify police and child welfare officials that Adams was abusing his eldest daughter.

In 2010, Adams confessed to his bishop, John Herod, that he had sexually abused his daughter, according to legal records. “Abuse Counseling Desk” I was advised not to report it to the police or child welfare officials. The abuse was kept secret and Adams continued to rape his eldest daughter and her sister for several years. Adams was subsequently indicted by federal authorities for posting videos of his abuse on the internet.

Herrod’s decision not to report was made after speaking with Nelson., according to church records included as evidence of the incident. Nelson was a shareholder in Carton McConkie, which has more than 160 lawyers, according to its website. Nelson was one of several attorneys at the office who regularly responded to calls from Bishop to the helpline.

The Adams children, two daughters and a son, said in legal documents that new evidence from the church “knows about the Adams family’s criminal misconduct and fails to call the police.” It became clear that the number of such groups continues to grow.”

For example, Carton-McConkie’s attorney Peter Scofield was also consulted in the Adams case, according to new pretrial testimony confirmed by The Associated Press. He has been involved in the Helpline for over 20 years and is currently one of the attorneys defending the Church in the Adams case.

An attorney for the Adams’ three children said it had no additional comment on their latest legal documents. A spokesman for the church declined to comment.

Nelson, who recently announced his retirement from Congress, did not immediately return a message from the AP seeking comment. He defended the church’s use of the helpline in the Adams case, Nelson said in his September interview with The Associated Press, saying, “It just seemed to work as intended.” The veteran lawmaker’s remarks came before it was reported that Nelson responded to a call from Herod about abuse.

Schofield did not immediately comment.

In a recorded interview with a Department of Homeland Security agent, Herrod said he called the helpline and was told he was prohibited from reporting Adams’ abuse under Arizona law, and if he did report it. , left the impression that it could be sued. However, Arizona’s Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Act provides full civil and criminal immunity for anyone who reports information about child sexual abuse to government authorities.

The Associated Press reported in Aug. Adams told Herod that he sexually abused his eldest daughter, identified as MJ, in 2010. A lawyer for the church said that Herod and later another bishop, Robert “Kim” Mawsey, were accused of accusing a state “clergyman.” It said it had legally withheld information about MJ’s abuse from law enforcement under the auspices of the Privilege of Repentance.

Although Arizona law requires clergy and other professionals to report child sexual abuse and neglect, clerics are not required to report information obtained during spiritual confessions. to withhold. Arizona is one of 33 states that maintains a loophole in the privilege of repentance for clergy. This exempts clergymen of all denominations from the obligation to report child abuse if they learn about the crime at a confession.

An AP investigation in August revealed a helpline-centric system for reviewing all accusations of child sexual abuse within the church before reporting the information to government authorities. .

This included a policy to destroy all records of helpline calls at the end of the day, according to AP’s findings. Meanwhile, all calls that refer to serious cases of abuse, including abuse on bishops or church grounds, are immediately referred to Curton McConkie’s attorneys.

In a court filing, attorneys for the three Adams children said the church’s requirement for bishops to call the helpline before notifying law enforcement about a report of child sexual abuse is: It claims it violates Arizona law, which requires clergy and other professionals to “immediately report” information. About child sexual abuse against police or child welfare workers.

William Maledon, an attorney representing the church in the Arizona lawsuit, argues that the word “immediately” in the law is open to interpretation. Who knows?” he asked in an AP interview in July. “As soon as you decide you have a duty to report, you can argue what that means. That’s how I interpret it, and that’s how any good lawyer interprets it.” think.”

In addition to Nelson and Kurton McConkie, attorneys for the Adams children have identified additional co-conspirators, Liza Adams, Paul Adams’ then-wife, and LDS, another company affiliated with the church. Seeking permission to add “Family Services.” In a sworn legal statement, church officials said calls to the help line are handled by LDS Family Services social workers. Under Utah’s Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Act, social workers are required to report information about actual or suspected child sexual abuse to government officials, according to the new filing.

In the Adams case, all calls made to the helpline by Herod and Mawsey were handled by Carton McConkie’s lawyer, according to church lawyers. “They were all with lawyers or paraprofessionals,” Maledon said in an interview in July.

Paul Adams committed suicide in custody in 2017 after being arrested by Homeland Security agents. Leizza Adams spent more than two years in state prison for child molestation charges. Her three of her six children were taken up by Raiza’s extended Adams family. Her remaining three were adopted by Arizona families and filed lawsuits against the church.


Follow Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes on Twitter at @JHDearen and @MikeRezendes. Contact AP’s Global Investigative Team at Investigative@ap.org or https://www.ap.org/tips/.


AP’s religious coverage is supported through a partnership between AP and The Conversation US with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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https://www.ksat.com/news/national/2022/10/12/lawsuit-utah-firm-and-lawmaker-helped-mormons-hide-abuse/ Utah firm and legislators helped Mormons hide abuse

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