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2 September 2022 | Podcasts | Article by Alan Collins

Child abuse within the Mormon church: HJ Talks About Abuse

Child abuse within the Mormon church: HJ Talks About Abuse Child abuse within the Mormon church: HJ Talks About Abuse Child abuse within the Mormon church: HJ Talks About Abuse

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.

Author bio

Alan Collins is one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.  Alan has represented interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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