WV -- Mormon hearing televised today
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 22, 2014
Court hearing today to be streamed live
It can be watched on-line, starting at 10 a.m.
Case is “virtually unprecedented,” group says
Mormons persuaded judge to give predator a lawyer
And half of his attorney fees are to be paid by abuse victims
National support group blasts that arrangement as “an outrage”
It’s begging those who “saw, suspected or suffered Mormon crimes” to “speak up”
An appeals court hearing today in Charleston involving a controversial child sex abuse and cover up case will be live-streamed on line at http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/webcast.html.
It involves a twice-convicted, now-imprisoned Mormon child molester, Christopher Michael Jensen, who was convicted of assaulting youngsters in both Utah and West Virginia. A dozen children and their parents are suing Mormon officials for allegedly enabling and concealing Jensen’s abuses.
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is criticizing Mormon church officials, accusing them of “callous, self-serving hardball legal tactics.”
“Mormon officials are trying to scare other victims into staying silent,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “And they’re rubbing even more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of these brave but suffering families who have been so severely hurt and betrayed.”
“It’s an outrage that the Mormon church hierarchy has persuaded a judge to make these courageous families pay half the fees for two private lawyers in this case, including one who is defending a proven criminal,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “We in SNAP have never seen anything like this.”
The group hopes others who may have been assaulted by Jensen will speak up.
“We also beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Jensen or other Mormons to step forward and get help,” said Dorris. “That’s the best way to expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.”
The case was brought in Berkeley County Circuit Court.
The Martinsburg judge in the case is Gray Silver.
Representing the victim are Seattle WA attorney Tim Kosnoff (425 837 9690), Baltimore attorney William Meyer (410 539 5526), Carl Kravitz and Caroline Mehta of Washington DC (202 778 1800) and Robert Fitzsimmons, Brent Wear and Justin Wiater of Wheeling (304 277 1700).
Kravitz will be arguing for the victims in court today.
Martinsburg lawyer William J. Powell represents the church.
A copy of the victims’ most recent court filing is here:
More information about the case is here:
SNAP, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse with support groups in over 60 cities nation wide.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.