Alan, Kathleen and Danielle discuss a recent child abuse case within the Mormon Church back off a news headline from the US Associated Press published on the 4th of August about a horrific child sexual abuse case which took place in Arizona. It is estimated that there are around 16 million members of the Mormon church worldwide and around 200,000 in the UK.
MJ was 5 years old when her father Paul Adams admitted to his Mormon bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The bishop Herrod called a hotline set up by the Mormon Church to seek advice on what to do and was told not to contact police or social services. He continued to counsel Adams for another year and even brought in Adams’s wife Leizza so that she would be aware of what was going on and could try to protect her children. In 2012, a new bishop took over and Herrod told the new bishop Mauzy about Adams abuse of his daughter. Mauzy said that church officials told him to convene a disciplinary hearing against Adams and he was excommunicated in 2013. The abuse of MJ continued and in 2015 another daughter was born. Adams began abusing her when she was just 6 weeks old and posted the content online.
The abuse was only reported when New Zealand officials found a video of Adams raping MJ, then 10 years old, on the phone of a paedophile in that country which led to a global search to locate Adams. He was eventually traced because he was working as border patrol for Homeland Security. He was arrested, confessed to the abuse of MJ and her baby sister, and committed suicide in prison. His wife Leizza was also charged, pled guilty and received a two year sentence.
MJ and her baby sister are now suing the Mormon Church for failing to report the abuse. Arizona has mandatory reporting laws with an exemption for the clergy penitent privilege.
In light of the imminent release of IICSA’s final report and likely recommendation for mandatory reporting, which is not law in the UK, we discuss the implications of the case and how mandatory reporting could have stopped and prevented the abuse.