UT--Abuse victims applaud Mormon “openness” but push for more
For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 11
We applaud the Mormon hierarchy for gradually becoming more open about the sexual behavior of its founder, especially the fact that Joseph Smith took a 14 year old “bride” which constitutes child sexual abuse.
But now, church officials should unequivocally denounce child sexual abuse and tell and remind their flock that it is always illegal and immoral for any adult to have any sexual contact with any child. And they should beg anyone with information or suspicions about child sex crimes – past or present – to call police and prosecutors now.
“That’s not needed. Everyone knows this,” some may protest. But this is a reckless assumption, especially in a denomination with a sordid history of secrecy around sexual crimes and misdeeds. If such a strong and clear declaration helps embolden one person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes in a Mormon church or family to call law enforcement, it will have been worth it.
Reversing decades of sexual secrecy and misconduct in any institution is tough. It requires repeated and vigorous action, including public statements.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)