Complicity with Pedophilia
The recent news about another sexual predator being employed by the LDS Church despite his admission to a church leader of molesting a child (not to mention the story from last week about a current bishop being arrested on charges of human trafficking and sexual battery) brought to mind this story about my family’s complicity with pedophilia.
My great-grandfather was in a stake presidency and was a temple worker until the day he died, despite serially molesting all of his granddaughters that he had access to for decades.
He didn’t have access to my great-uncle’s daughters for long. As soon as my uncle learned his father had molested one of his daughters, this uncle confronted his father, moved his family far away from the small town in Utah where my great-grandfather lived, and severed ties with the entire family since all of his siblings enabled my great-grandfather’s abuse—despite knowing what he’d done to their own daughters. This complicity includes my own grandparents who knew that he had molested my 6-year-old mother and whose response was to tell her to “stay away from him” at family gatherings. Subsequently, my great-grandfather went on to molest nearly all of my mother’s five younger sisters.
As a result of denying my pedophilic great-grandfather access to his family, my great-uncle was demonized: as a child I only heard stories of what a horrible person he was.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned about what to me is my uncle’s heroism in a toxic family system: he rooted out the cancer that would likely spread through his whole family if he hadn’t by extracting himself, his wife, and his children from the source of the disease. Subsequently, he spent the rest of his life as an outcast among his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. He did what was right and “let the consequence follow” (“Do What Is Right,” LDS Hymnal, 1985).
Contemplating my great-uncle’s example of how to protect children from sexual predators in contrast with the Church’s history of complicity with pedophilia leaves me with these questions:
- If my great-uncle could make that decision in the 1960s with no information about the extremely high rate of recidivism of sexual predators and the devastating and far-reaching consequences of sexual abuse for survivors, why can’t the LDS Church in the 21st Century do the same?
- How many more sexual predators like my great-grandfather find easy prey in the vulnerable in the LDS Church today because this evil is enabled among us?
I shudder to think of the answers to these questions.
If you had the ability to change LDS Church policy and procedures to protect the community from sexual predators of all kinds, what would you do?
[Photo credit: Colby Stopa—Creative Commons]