Mormon Church in Utah Faces Another Sex Abuse Lawsuit as It Fights Navajos in Court

NavajoThe Mormon Church is wrangling over whether two sex abuse lawsuits should be heard in Navajo tribal court. Meanwhile, two other victims have come forward and filed their own lawsuits.

Another Navajo woman alleges she was sexually abused in a Mormons foster program in Utah between 1965 and 1972.  Another man says he was abused by his foster father in the 1970s and reported his abuse to workers in the Church-sponsored foster care program, but they left him in the home.

These new lawsuits are similar to the two that were filed in March 2016.  One of the earlier victims, referred to as RJ, also claims he informed the Church of his abuse when it was happening, but Church leaders sent him back to live with the people who abused him.

Lawyers for the Mormon Church are challenging the earlier lawsuits in Federal Court, seeking a protective order. “Tribal courts have no jurisdiction over conduct that does not occur on the tribe’s reservation,” LDS lawyers wrote in a letter to the US District Court, according to reports on KSL-TV.

The March lawsuits seek written apologies, unspecified damages, changes in church policy to ensure that sexual abuse is reported first to authorities, and the creation of a task force to address cultural or social harm to Navajos in the Indian Student Placement Program. Lawyers for the Plaintiffs suspect that other victims will forward because thousands of Native American children were placed in Mormon foster homes through this program and others like it.

Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous territory located on portions of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation Courts are divided up into 11 districts, such as Window Rock and Alamo.

The Navajo judicial system used today was first established in 1959 and is regarded as one of the largest tribal courts in the US.

All four victims are members of the Navajo nation.

The Mormon Church’s response to these sex abuse claims is a clear legal strategy that shows no concern for the victims. Once again we witness an institution that pays lip service to helping victims of sex abuse. But when push comes to shove, the LDS Church will use every legal tool available to it to avoid actually paying legal damages to victims harmed by the sexual abuse of its volunteers in Church programs.


Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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