The following submission was written by a mother going through the legal process of prosecuting the abuser. So many times these cases never make it to court. And when they do, it is a long, drawn out process that has far reaching consequences and implications especially considering that LDS culture is often a closed society.
Please read this mom's story about their family's experience.
"This has been a hard week. We are between conviction and sentencing in a case where my family was harmed. The conviction was a significantly reduced plea to what actually happened. The DA was not honest with us about the plea that would be offered. I can understand that this has been dragged out with ridiculous demands from the defense and significant fiscal costs to the prosecutors office (and subsequently to the taxpayers) in attempt of the defense to get it thrown out. And the evidence, assessments, rigamorole for three years just supported what was reported--that he knew damn well what he was doing and can stand up and interact with the consequences of his behavior. I understand the prosecutor wanting the case to move on, to prevent additional gameplaying and be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.
However, the optics of the conviction are not at all reflective of the events that the prosecution, defense, defendant, and family of the defendant know happened, with a 30 year track record of similar shit he got away with. "At least" this time he will serve some hard time, and children will be safer (for awhile).
Anyway, we spent last weekend completing victim impact statements, financial statements, and reviewing details to submit to the court for review and sentencing. Our legal system puts a significant burden on survivors to advocate for an approximation of justice, and what this means is that while surviving, you get to do lots of *homework* to prove how badly you were hurt.
As a result, some people in my life who claim to support us have expressed some, distress? confusion? At things I've said about why this happened to my family, what was happening in the environment that set events in motion and allowed this to happen and resulted in a dozen or so mandated reporters being willing to turn a blind eye and put other children in direct jeopardy. It seems that people aren't able to conceptualize that harm doesn't happen in a vacuum. That predators groom communities and families as well as they groom victims, and that toxic systems breed. environments. where bad. people. thrive.
People want blame to rest squarely on the shoulders of "bad people". At the same time, they don't conceptualize that people are multifaceted. So a "bad person" may seem really good to you, because they haven't personally aggressed toward you. So you stick up for him, or you see him as the real victim and the survivor as trying to "ruin his life" by holding him accountable.
Or in some cases, people know damn well that a person has done really bad things and would do them again, but they really like that person, or they feel that person is somehow a part of themselves, or maybe they were complacent with it, enabled it, and so by condemning that person, they have to hold a good hard look in the mirror and they can't make eye contact with that.
And this is where it intersects with church. "Why are you mad at church when it was a bad person, not church, who did this?" You wanna look at your church and see whether your church has supported, covered, encouraged, groomed and bought its way through abuse in its membership and leadership from its founding to the present day? You want to consider whether your church doctrines treat female bodies as a vehicle for male exaltation, even children's bodies, and then tell me this didn't influence choices people made to not protect victims, when they were steeped in a culture that normalizes and brags about their founder bedding children? When the water you swim in, (or rather, the water you baptize in), is child abuse, then the abuse is systemic.
So for example,
-a predator's parents having authority at church and using it to silence victims and prevent charges being filed.
-complaints about a predator attending church (and being in the hallways when children leave class to use the restroom), resulting in that predator being sent to a different congregation instead of sending him home and having church leaders who wish to minister to him see him there. No one in the new congregation being told why he is there. No limits on his freedom to roam there.
-complaints about a predator acting inappropriately at church resulting in the complainant being punished, formally or informally.
-violations of confidentiality when victims talk to clergy, in ways that help the predator.
-apostles coming to a community to threaten discipline to members who complain about a predator being given callings working with children.
-bishops referring to survivors as "gold diggers".
-stake leaders saying, "we usually handle this in house" when someone wants to report to police.
I could go on, but I'm too tired. And the reason it's systemic is this isn't a one time thing. It happens over and over. It is the "unwritten order of how it works." It's not just here in [location omitted], so its not a bad ward, or a bad stake. It's the same story, ad nauseum, across the country, within the religion these same things happen. This is where it's not just bad people, but a bad system. One that taught from its inception that little girls are potential sexual partners for old men, and that that is what female bodies are FOR. So the members see it that maybe the timing was off, not that what happened was a CRIME.
So this week, in addition to submitting a ream of paper to the court to review, the church decided that it was totes fine to violate a no contact order from my attorney and send 2 adult men to my house--to speak with my 10 year old child. TEN year old child. When I asked them why they are contacting my home they said it's in their notebook that we weren't "receptive" before, but that we may be "teachable" now.
And the same day, a family member who has known about the pedophile for over 30 years, who has helped prevent charges being filed in the past by wielding church authority, who helped the predator get a job in a school where he had access to kids for decades...wants to wish my 10yo a happy birthday and send her money.
The hell you say.
And so we have left the Mormon church, but it won't leave us alone.
And yes, I am offended. Because it's fucking offensive, that THIS predator isn't even in prison yet and they are already coming after my child to start grooming her to give up her aspirations and submit to being a sexual object for the rest of eternity so that the next predator has easy access.
The church is bad. The people--for the most part are trying to be good. Except that they can't see the water they swim in and choose to be complicit and blame "bad people" even as they enable what is happening.
*I am offended.