Utah GOP lawmaker told Mormon bishop not to report child abuse confession to police: report
Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Photo: Screen capture from concert video)

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that a Utah Republican lawmaker who serves as an attorney for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints instructed a Mormon bishop not to report a confession of child sex abuse to law enforcement.

"The records — two pages from a log of calls fielded by a law firm representing the church and the deposition of a church official — show that Utah Republican State Rep. Merrill F. Nelson took the initial call from a bishop reporting that church member Paul Adams had sexually abused his daughters," reported Jason Dearen and Micheal Rezendes. "Nelson also had multiple conversations over a two-year span with two bishops who knew of the abuse, the records show."

"A transcript of the deposition and excerpts of the call log were attached to a legal filing in the Arizona Court of Appeals made by lawyers for the plaintiffs," said the report. "Three of Adams’s children are battling the church, widely known as the Mormon church, for access to records the church insists are confidential. The church took the case to the Court of Appeals after a Cochise County judge ruled in favor of the victims." Adams ultimately committed suicide before he could stand trial.

According to the report, Nelson told Bishop John Herrod “that he could be sued if he reported, and the instruction by counsel not to report Paul to the authorities was the law in Arizona and had nothing to do with Church doctrine.”

"The church’s lawyers have said Herrod, and later bishop Robert 'Kim' Mauzy, legally withheld information about MJ’s abuse under the state’s clergy-penitent privilege," said the report. "Arizona law generally requires clergy members to report child neglect and sexual abuse but allows them to withhold information obtained during a spiritual confession."

Herrod's refusal to report the abuse was first revealed by an AP report in August, which suggested it was one of many cases in which church elders were aware of abuse and did not act. LDS subsequently released a statement clarifying church elders can punish child sex abusers with ex-communication, which triggered outrage from former Mormons who believe the church is still not doing enough.

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