A Spotlight Moment in Utah?

mormonIt’s a good question and one that needs to be asked and answered.  Spotlight refers to the 2015 Academy Award winning film depicting the Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s investigation into the priest abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The question is asked by a Utah organization (www.restoreourhumanity.org ) dedicated to helping survivors tell their stories and heal the wounds inflicted by sexual abuse.  The organization focuses its attention on the Church of Latter Day Saints a.k.a. the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America in the state of Utah.

A recent Restore Our Humanity blog post stated, “Is there a Spotlight story in Utah similar to the Oscar winning movie plot?”  Restore Our Humanity says “Yes” and takes on what it calls systemic child abuse within the LDS Church and BSA.

Just as Cardinal Law of Boston left the Archdiocese of Boston only to be promoted to a position within the Vatican, many Mormon church officials and Boy Scout leaders are rewarded for their silence.  Lauren Elise McNamara, communications director of Restore Our Humanity, says these types of promotions after cover-ups are familiar to some accused of sexual abuse within the LDS ecclesiastical community.

McNamara goes further:

[O]nly 13.3% of victims are strangers to their perpetrators in Utah. The majority of perpetrators know their victims personally, 51.7% are family or an intimate partner because that perpetrator is looking for someone who will be easier for them to victimize. When an organization covers up a crime of sexual assault, of a child or otherwise, they are ensuring that perpetrator continues to have access to more victims over the course of his or her lifetime.

She explains the closer the relationship with the victim the less likely the crime will be reported to police: “If that perpetrator is then put into a position of authority over others, this would only make victimizing more people that much easier.”

If Utah is to have a “Spotlight moment”, it won’t be easy.  According to the latest Pew Research Center estimate, 55% of Utah citizens belong to the Mormon church.  If the cloak of silence is lifted, society will have to listen to the stories of sexual abuse survivors and how their churches and institutions were complicit in the cover-up.

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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