Utah Judge Waits to Decide if Mormon President Will Be Forced to Testify

Utah NewsRobert J. Shelby, US District Court Judge for the District of Utah, said yesterday that he will not decide whether Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be forced to provide deposition testimony in a sex abuse lawsuit against the church.

Monson has been subpoenaed to give his testimony in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by four adults. These adults allege they were sexually abused when they were children by members of their host families in an LDS Church program for Navajo children.

Judge Shelby said that he will wait to issue his ruling until jurisdictional matters are resolved.  The judge heard three hours of arguments concerning the proper venue for the sexual abuse trial from lawyers representing the Mormon Church and the victims of the sexual abuse.

The children were not abused on the Navajo reservation, so attorneys for the Mormon Church argue that Navajo Tribal Court has no jurisdiction to hear this matter. On the other side, the victims’ attorney argued that decisions about where to place children and the Church’s poor response after the kids reported the abuse occurred on Navajo Nation land and therefore the Tribal Court does have jurisdiction to hear the case.

The LDS Church’s Indian Student Placement Program (ISPP) ran from the 1940s until the 2000s.  The program was coordinated and run by the Mormon Church.  Thousands of Indian children were placed in host homes throughout Utah through the ISPP.

These lawsuits seek written apologies, unspecified money damages, changes in LDS 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 ISPP.

Lawyers for the Plaintiffs suspect that there are other victims because thousands of Native American children were placed in Mormon foster homes through this program and others like it. If you or someone you know was abused in a Mormon sponsored program and you have questions for an attorney, call us at 503-616-5007 or email info@dumaslawgroup.com.



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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