Let me get this straight

  • In the mid 1980s, a man named Kevin Garn got naked in a hot tub with a young woman by the name of Cheryl Maher.
  • Garn claims he was 28 30 at the time and acknowledges that Maher was only 15. Garn had formerly served as her Sunday School teacher when she was younger. (And just so we’re all clear, 28 30 is too old to blame something on youthful indiscretion.)
  • Garn becomes the [Republican] representative of the 16th District for the Utah House of Representatives in 1991.
  • In 2002, when Garn is running for re-election, Maher attempts to talk to the Church-owned Deseret News about what happened. DN verifies the story, yet decides to sit on it. Garn loses his bid for re-election in spite of the newspaper’s efforts to protect him.
  • Garn subsequently arranged a pay-off of $150,000 in hush money. The agreement was facilitated with the help of Maher’s LDS bishop.
  • Garn was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and became House Majority Leader in 2009.
  • If the Deseret News and the “helpful” bishop didn’t alert the Church to these happenings (which is extremely doubtful), Cheryl Maher did by writing a letter to the Church in 2008.
  • Maher was excommunicated at some point between 2002 and 2010, while Garn remains a member of the Church. She says she was excommunicated for an extra-marital affair. I’m dying to hear how Maher’s extra-marital affair (presumably with another consenting adult) warranted excommunication while Garn’s extra-marital affair with a 15 year-old didn’t.
  • Yet no one is blogging about this (outside of links to news stories in the sideblogs).

What am I missing here?

And just for the record, I don’t want any comments comparing this to 19th century polygamous practices.

UPDATE 3/23/10: Apparently Garn also had a DUI-related incident in 2006, after he began seeking re-election.

Sources:

Deseret News takes own lumps on story of Kevin Garn, Cheryl Maher
House Majority Leader Kevin Garn resigns amid hot tub scandal
Cheryl Maher says Kevin Garn lied about hot tub contact
LDS Church says local leaders handled claims against Garn
Cheryl Maher finally say a word against Kevin Garn


Comments

Let me get this straight — 41 Comments

  1. I agree — it’s super messed up that this aspect of the story is being overlooked. As far as the excommunication issues, unless Rep. Garn had sex with somebody else while he was married, he wouldn’t usually be excommunicated. However, sitting naked in a hot tub with jail bait, especially when he was her Sunday School teacher, does seem wrong enough that church authorities should have taken better action.

    I’m not surprised. Church authorities swept it under the rug when I was in an abusive marriage and told me to stay with my ex. I finally had to decide to get away from the situation, which was an awful decision because I feared I was defying God’s will. My ex is still a member in good standing, as is Rep. Garn. Gee, I wonder why I have a hard time trusting the church leaders ever again?

  2. did you catch the email that Maher noted in the Desseret News that Garn’s wife pleaded with Maher not to make his indiscretion public because she (the wife) would suffer for it. Garn’s wife knew of the incident and yet she stood by her man.

  3. I can’t speak about the church disciplinary issues specifically with respect to Garn; I don’t know what his bishop knew and when, and what or if anything was done. In general, of course, serious disciplinary action of some sort would be warranted for behavior of that kind by a Sunday school teacher if the event were recent (and maybe even if it was long ago).

    But I can speak a little bit about the journalistic issues involved (because that’s my area of expertise). I’ve read the accounts of the newspaper’s decision not to run the story, and I think the paper made a reasonable decision, probably the one I would have made. I don’t think its decision was a slam-dunk one, though, and journalists can disagree on such matters.

    Part of the problem is that the paper received the allegations from an apparently flaky source a very short time before the election. I know from personal experience that this sort of thing happens all the time — and very seldom do such accusations end up in print. (This wasn’t even a last-minute thing, but look how many legitimate news sources didn’t write about John Edwards’ affair until it could be rock-solid verified.) And when they do, even journalists are among those criticizing the news judgment (as happened a number of years ago with the Portland Oregonian ran a story about a long-ago affair of a congressional candidate — the paper was raked over the coals by other journalists).

    Apparently, the Salt Lake Tribune, certainly not a newspaper that is beholden to the Church, also withheld the story until very recently.

    At what point does a long-ago moral error become legitimate news? I think it’s hard to give a specific answer (although if info about “hush money” became known with regard to a prominent lawmaker, that’s news regardless of when it occurred, IMO). But I’m not convinced (although I could change my mind with further evidence) that the DesNews didn’t do anything differently than what many other newspapers would do with what it knew when it knew it.

  4. Yikes! that’s more info than I’ve heard anywhere else.

    This guy is an idiot and anyone dumb enough to cover it up is an idiot too.

  5. And when he admitted it in front of the Senate, the Senate chamber gave a round of applause. I will be charitable and assume it is for his “bravery” in coming clean (after having already been outed), and not because the Republican and Mormon dominated Senate approves of sexually harassing teens.

    I’ve been wanting to blog about it, but I’ve been distracted by a family crisis this week. We’ll see if I can put something together before the issue becomes stale.

  6. chanson, I should have been more clear. My link there was to a search of the Bloggernacle for “Kevin Garn” showing that none of the blogs searched are discussing it. I didn’t see anything last I checked Mormon Archipelago, either. I’m not accusing Bloggernacle writers of anything; I’m just genuinely baffled that they aren’t weighing in on this (yet).

    If the ex-Mormon community is discussing it, more power to them. MSP, your blog, and Andrew’s blog are the main ex-Mormon blogs I read.

    Rob, with some critics, every sexual scandal invites a comparison to Joseph Smith.

    I’ll get to the other comments later.

  7. Just to be clear: My journalistic agreement with the DesNews decision is in reference to 2002. But I think that once Garn was in the running for a state House leadership position the issue could have become a legitimate news story, depending on what information the paper could find out and verify.

  8. I have no desire to defend this guy. I think what he did was stupid and a gross error in judgement. But I do feel that a couple things should be pointed out:

    1) He was not her Sunday School teacher at the time.

    2) All records seem to indicate that this event didn’t come to light until nearly 20 years after the fact. I don’t understand why Garn’s bishop helped mediate the hush-up, but I don’t see any reason why Garn should be subject to disciplinary action so long after the event took place.

    3) Jack, how is sitting in a hot tub naked grounds from claiming it was an extra-marital affair? All accounts I’ve read said that that was all they were doing.

    All that being said, I don’t know why this is being ignored by the bloggernacle in general. Especially with the large number of non-Republican American LDS bloggers, I am surprised that they haven’t been jumping all over this as an example of why Republicans really are all that bad.

  9. Eric ~ I don’t have the experience in journalism you do. Just from the spectator side, I saw the media’s refusal to publish their leads on John Edwards’ affair as a disingenuous cover-up of a favored political candidate. Same with Newsweek‘s decision to sit on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

    If Maher had been their only source, I could understand why DN didn’t run the story in 2002, however they verified the story with Garn himself. So I have a hard time agreeing that it was okay for them to not run the story.

    I think they definitely should have ran it when Garn ran for re-election again though.

    I should have noted in the blog post that the Salt Lake Tribune chose not to run it either, for fairness’ sake.

    Alex ~ I don’t see any reason why Garn should be subject to disciplinary action so long after the event took place.

    So the passage of time is automatically supposed to indicate repentance? Because I think a 150K pay-off is hardly a sign of a broken heart and contrite spirit.

    If Maher’s affair hadn’t been disclosed until 20 years after the fact, would she still get to be a member of the church?

    Jack, how is sitting in a hot tub naked grounds from claiming it was an extra-marital affair? All accounts I’ve read said that that was all they were doing.

    Maher claims that there was physical contact (I linked to this in the post). Garn is the one who insists naked hot-tubbing is “all they were doing.” I’m inclined to believe her over him, but perhaps that’s my bias. Maher also claims that they had a relationship for months.

    I don’t think there was sex or Maher would have said so, but in my book, there doesn’t have to be sex for it to be an affair. If my husband came to me tomorrow and confessed to naked hot-tubbing with a woman of any age, I’d sure call it an affair.

  10. Jack said:

    I think they definitely should have ran it when Garn ran for re-election again though.

    Without knowing all the facts, I’d probably agree, and almost certainly if it were shown that “hush money” was paid. The position that he holds makes him more worthy of extra scrutiny than if, for example, he were a member of a small-town city council. The fact that the girl was his employee and a minor also makes the incident worth of extra scrutiny. But the apparent payment of “hush money” is what ultimately tips the balance for me, because that relates to his public life. That didn’t happen before the 2002 election.

    For a journalist to decide when a public figure’s private life should be made public is usually a difficult call. Sometimes the call becomes an easy one to make, such as when it relates to conduct while on duty or results in the spending of public money (which is why my employer recently decided to run stories on sexually related conduct involving a public official and a subordinate).

    Jack also said:

    So the passage of time is automatically supposed to indicate repentance? Because I think a 150K pay-off is hardly a sign of a broken heart and contrite spirit.

    I have no idea whether there’s repentance or not. But his story is that he got together with the bishop and this woman and worked out an arrangement that he could compensate this woman, restitution if you will, because he felt that he had done wrong and wanted to do what he could to make it right.

    Now we can all choose whether we want to believe this, but I find that it has some plausibility. I can imagine a scenario whereby a man who had done such a thing gets together with a bishop and the woman to discuss ways in which he could make things right as part of a repentance process and ends up agreeing to compensate her for a significant amount. And I can also imagine that his lawyer would insist on a nondisclosure provision.

    Whether this is what happened, I don’t know. I’m just saying that it’s plausible.

    Jack also said:

    I don’t think there was sex or Maher would have said so, but in my book, there doesn’t have to be sex for it to be an affair. If my husband came to me tomorrow and confessed to naked hot-tubbing with a woman of any age, I’d sure call it an affair.

    I’d agree. I figure that if I were to do anything with a woman that’s different than what I would do with my spouse present then I’m heading into dangerous territory. I’m not sure at what point “dangerous territory” becomes an affair, but it’s well before there’s physical contact.

  11. Well, guess what? You’re GOING to get comments comparing this to 19th century polygamous practices!

    (As a non-Mormon, I’m surprised that you’d be against such commentary.)

  12. Shades, I think I’ve been pretty vocal of my opinion that 19th century Mormon polygamy had problems. Coercion and manipulation of teenage girls into marriages with much older men was one of them, and I think there’s a time and place for discussion of that fact.

    But I’d like to give my LDS friends space to discuss modern-day sex offenders without every conversation turning into an argument on that topic. Besides, such comments usually don’t go much deeper than, “Ha, this guy was a sex offender, just like Joseph Smith was!”

  13. You know who else got “restitution” after an affair? The family of John Ensign’s mistress. (Before the husband started asking for more.) And that went straight to an ethics committee.

    Maybe I was in the firestorm of nasty politics too long, but you’ll never convince me that payment was anything other than desperation.

  14. Jack, I see three issues in the questions that you raise:

    1. Garn’s status in the church. (“Why didn’t he get excommunicated?”)

    2. The DesNews’s decision on what and when to publish.

    3. The Utah legislature’s reactions or lack therefore towards Garn.

    #2 and #3 are worthy of public discussion. #1 should not be because we don’t know (and really shouldn’t know) what his priesthood leaders knew and when.

    A lot of leeway is given local leaders, especially stake presidents, in judging the transgressions of members, and determining what the response should be. Many things presumably go into the local leader’s judgement and decision-making. Was the member endowed in the temple? Was the member married? Did the transgressor voluntarily confess?
    Did the transgressor fully confess? Did the transgressor delay confession? Was it a repeat offense? Did the transgressor hold a prominent position in the church? (Holding a prominent position usually brings a harsher judgement, not a lesser.) Was the transgression totally private or widely known? (That one kind of shocked me, but I read it in Spencer W. Kimball’s “Miracle of Forgiveness”.)

    Questioning the church-owned DesNews’ decision is one thing, which, as Eric adequately explained, has plenty of plausibility under journalistic guidelines outside of any church connection.

    But I’m kind of surprised you’d even juxtapose Maher’s church discipline with the church’s apparent judgement (or apparent lack thereof) of Garn. Those are two separate incidents, years apart, with different leadership in place, wherein the latter leaders likely were unaware of the former matter.

    What did you want Maher to say to her husband and to her bishop? “Hey, gimme a break on my infidelity. An older church member talked me into a naked-hot-tub-date years ago.” ?

    The church doesn’t make transgressions (except in those cases required by law to be reported), or the decision-making process that goes into church-discipline matters, public. I think that’s probably how it should be. And I think that’s true in all or most churches, and probably in most membership-type organizations.

    Does the naked hot tub incident make him a sex offender under Utah law? Did it render (or would it have rendered) him ineligible to hold public office at the state level?

    Another item: If I understand correctly, in the LDS church, the aggrieved spouse doesn’t get to dictate what church discipline towards the offending spouse must be (or can’t be.) The aggrieved spouse certainly would get his or her say and present their case to the bishop and/or stake president. But the judgement is supposed to be the Lord’s, as inspired to or given to the priesthood leader.

    Suppose your husband was a member of your church and had a naked hot-tub date with someone, and your church decided to only disfellowship him, and not excommunicate him. How would you feel about that?

    Further, supposing Garn did confess in private to his bishop/SP sometime before he was outed (I’m not sure from the news stories if he claims he did or not), for how many years and how many bishops and SPs do you think he should have to “re-confess”?

    According to SWK in “Miracle of Forgiveness”, once a priesthood leader gives someone the clearance to move forward, they no longer have to “re-confess” to subsequent leaders, though now there are likely to be exceptions, such as for sex-offenders. (And certain callings, such as Bishop and higher, have to be “cleared” through SLC, to give SLC leadership a chance to check to see if there is a “confidential file” on the person wherein there might be history that would nix such a calling.)

  15. How to address the issues?

    Did Rep. Garn screw up? Absolutely.

    Did Deseret News cover up the story? Looks like it.

    Did Church leaders, not necessarily significant hierarchy but at least Bishops, do something inappropriate? Seems likely.

    Was it an affair? My wife would say so, so I say yes.

    Should Rep. Garn be ex-ed? I say so, but I have no say in the matter.

    At the end of the day I mentally separate the issues. Religiously, I have no doubt or belief that the Church operates perfectly, and this evidence of poor operation is expected. I know people who were ex-ed for much less, but then again I personally know people who did much more, were not ex-ed, and agree with that particular action. As it is, religiously the issues here are murky, and I can see some justification for the actions taken, given the right circumstances (with respect to his status in the Church). I am not as concerned with his religious status, since I try to be as open-minded as possible with those sorts of things when leniency is involved. I get much more concerned when someone is ex-ed than when someone is not, oddly enough. If she was ex-ed unfairly, and he was unfairly let off easy I would be more upset by the first case.

    Politically he did something he should not have, covered it up, and should be treated accordingly. The ovation he received was absurd. He should be ejected from office and ostracized. If Bill Clinton admitted his affair, would he had gotten a standing “O”?

  16. FWIW, I am fairly confident my wife would throw me under the nearest bus if I ever did anything remotely close to what Garn did. I still don’t know if I would call it an affair, per se, but it is definitely a serious indiscretion that neither she nor I would have any tolerance for.

    As far as the time frame for a transgression is concerned, I don’t know if there is any kind of policy for this. I’ll look into it and let you know if I find anything. My gut feeling, though, is that 20 years is an awfully long time, and it sounds like this was a one-time event (at least, from what I have read), and that is always taken into account. Anyway, I’ll see if I can find anything more definite but, as has been said, local leaders are given the authority to handle such circumstances, and judgements are not made public.

  17. Alex, FWIW. I would help your wife throw you under a bus if you ever did anything like that. But I would ensure she took out a large life insurance policy on you first.

    At the same time, I wouldn’t call it an affair, but I’d call it much more than an indiscresion. It was seriously a major sin, seriously inappropriate, and regardless if there was any physical contact, there should have been some form of discipline. I don’t know if Utah law was broken, but the rule of “I know it when I see it” is definitely broken here, I can’t imagine anyone thinking it’d be OK.

  18. For me, the big issue is not whether or not there was sexual contact, whether what happened constitutes is adultery, or what level of sin it was. The real problem IMO is the abuse of power. Garn was Maher’s boss. Did Maher feel her employment might be jeopardized if she declined, or that the job environment could turn unfriendly? Even a seemingly friendly proposal under those conditions can seem awfully coercive. And that is what I believe makes this a much more serious moral issue. That is what Garn’s religious authorities hopefully took into account when considering church discipline. And that is what the Utah legislature should have considered before so cavalierly “supporting” Garn with that absurd display. If we aren’t going to take the issue of coercion seriously, we are in for big trouble.

  19. I have no idea why this isn’t being blogged about. There are quite a few aspects of the story that could be fleshed out better and that speak to what the LDS Church truly is and teaches. Seeing the way that the LDS Church influenced this entire process and knew about it makes me sick.

    I’m a computer noob, but on City Weekly’s website there is a link to personal emails from Mr. Garn’s wife and kids to Ms. Maher and her then husband. Those emails have made me think long and hard about belonging to an organization that trains its members to think and act the way that Mrs. Garn and her family do about Christ and his doctrine.

  20. But I’m kind of surprised you’d even juxtapose Maher’s church discipline with the church’s apparent judgment (or apparent lack thereof) of Garn. … The church doesn’t make transgressions (except in those cases required by law to be reported), or the decision-making process that goes into church-discipline matters, public. I think that’s probably how it should be.

    I agree on on both counts. On the other hand, it might be a legitimate question to ask whether women get different treatment than men do. I honestly don’t know, and there’s no way to find out, but there is anecdotal evidence (which would get you nowhere in either a court of law or an academic journal) that there has been a double standard among some local church leaders.

    My personal experience is quite limited; I have personally known only three people that I have firsthand knowledge of who committed adultery while active in the church. Two of them (a man and a woman, in separate incidents) were disfellowshipped and later returned to full membership; the third was a woman against whom no action was taken because the bishop felt that taking any disciplinary action would be a hindrance to her resuming activity in the church.

    On the other hand, I have reliable secondhand knowledge of a case wherein of the two people involved, the woman was excommunicated and the man received a “higher” calling a few months later. This was about 15 years ago.

    I have also been told by people in local leadership that allegations involving abuse of children (sexual or otherwise) are taken very seriously. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

  21. I juxtaposed the two cases because it stands out to me that Garn did this to a 15 year-old girl and:

    * Wasn’t legally prosecuted
    * Wasn’t exposed when the newspapers found out about it
    * Wasn’t exposed afterward when he ran for re-election
    * Is still a member of the church, presumably in good standing

    And she’s the one who’s excommunicated? No, I don’t know the circumstances surrounding her excommunication, and it might be perfectly valid. But it sure smells fishy that he wasn’t—even if the church found out about it long after the fact. How much did his status as a public figure play into the decision to go easy on him? The fact that it would have been embarrassing and career-killing as a politician in Utah to be excommunicated from the church? I’ve been trying not to let my feminist angst get the better of me in commenting on this, but this situation just reeks of powerful men protecting a powerful man.

    BTW, a commentator on another discussion board mentioned that Garn was on the board for Deseret News when they chose not to run the story in 2002. If that’s true, it certainly seems like a conflict of interest to me.

    To be clear, I am not a Cheryl Maher fan, either. She shouldn’t have taken the hush money in the first place and she’s likely using the incident opportunistically now. If she’d really wanted to do the public a favor, she should have come forward on it when he decided to run for office again.

  22. Anyone remember Gary Hart & Donna Rice? That hit the news in real time, & changed everything for them, even though the details were not given. Utah Rep. Allen Howe got bounced for solicitation of police decoy prostitutes:

    http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/h/HOWE,ALLEN.html

    It’s a shame that the 2 major Utah newspapers sat on that story. Yet, GW Bush’s drinking problems from years past came up at the 2000 Election, and was a factor. And, I wonder how much decrying of weak morals those 2 papers did about the Clinton-Lewinsky saga.

    IMHO, Garn went brain dead with the hot tub antics. Even if there was no physical contact, almost all men would still “slobber” over a naked teen girl near them. Yes, it was an abuse of power/position at several times, it seems.

    This also creates a problem for the LDS Church, for it was some years ago that this happened, but not doing anything about Garn might look like condoning what happened. And, Maher could have been traumatized/impacted morally by the hot tub fiasco enough that it was a factor in her being exed later on. I can’t say for sure on the last one, but that really makes me wonder.

  23. Mike H: First-time, or especially too-early first-time sexual encounters do have a long term imprinting effect on an individual. That’s one reason why child sex abuse is so heinous, and why the law-of-chastity is so important.

    The public details of this matter are very messy so far. We don’t know when she informed church leaders of the 1985 event. One report made it sound like it wasn’t until 2002 or until the current go-round. She apparently demanded some kind of financial compensation to “make her whole” (restitution/compensation or whatever the proper term is) in 2002 or 2003, and then his lawyer attached a “confidentiality agreement” to it, to which she agreed. So that makes it look like hush-money. She eventually allegedly asked for more money. And then she violated the confidentiality agreement. So that makes her look bad.

    I disagree with Jack’s conflating or combining of the issues. We don’t know if either party informed church leaders of the event in 1985 back then, so even if ecclesiastical leaders were required to report allegations/confessions of sex with minors in Utah in 1985, we don’t know if they were even informed of it back then by either party. And we don’t know if reporting laws in effect now are retroactive to events in 1985.

    In my view, the issue is both political in regard to his elected office, and journalistic, in regard to what the Trib or the DesNews should have done with the information they had at the time.

    I believe it’s wrong to publicly criticize the church for individual cases of church discipline matters, in any church. Even though it’s the victim in this case who has made this public. The exceptions being legal reporting requirements to law enforcement (and again, neither the parties nor the church would be required to make public statements to the press, just report to law enforcement), and whether the church leaders who knew about the event(s) allowed the transgressor further access to minors.

    I think this case illustrates the importance of victims going to law enforcement as quickly as possible, and the importance for transgressors to see their ecclesiastical leader as quickly as possible.

    Maybe there is some tradition in Utah for victims to go to their bishop but not law enforcement. If so, then I think that’s a bad tradition.

  24. Eric, #23. Re the church treating male and female transgressors differently. I once served as a Ward Exec Sec, and I was impressed by the bishop’s concern for repentent members. When I came back to church after a 15 year absence, I was welcomed back tenderly.

    I think a lot of the guidelines that Spencer Kimball laid out in “Miracle of Forgiveness” are still in effect. My understanding is that bishops still often give out copies of that book.

    Traditional thinking usually has the man as the initiator of illicit sex, but ever since the sexual revolution of the 60′s, and even more so in the past 15 years, it seems more women have taken that initiative. Nor do men have a monopoly on self-justification, which is a common impediment to repentence and restoration to fellowship.

  25. Pingback: Utah House Majority Leader Kevin Garn Gets His Standing Ovation | Main Street Plaza

  26. I really don’t understand – didn’t Joseph Smith get married to a fourteen year old? So then, why are Mormons all upset with this?

    It’s okay for a prophet but not a “normal” person?

  27. #29 Sonny, did you honestly miss the last line of the post, or just decide to ignore it?

    And since I’m not Mormon and I’m not “okay” with Joseph Smith marrying 14 year-olds, I’m allowed to be upset at this.

  28. Let’s just ignore the whole polygamy issue and point out that the Representative didn’t even pretend to marry this fifteen-year-old girl. He just wanted to look at her goodies and (possibly) touch them, too.

    As a man, as a husband, and as a Mormon, I am disgusted on all counts.

  29. [quote]And just for the record, I don’t want any comments comparing this to 19th century polygamous practices.[/quote]

    Ok, I guess I didn’t do a good job of comparing this situation to the age factor – point taken, my bad.

    And in reference to the last line of the quote, I believe a more technically accurate request would have listed the practice of plural marriage, which included polyandry AND polygamy.

    Keepin the Sonny side up. :)

  30. Garn’s wife knew of the incident and yet she stood by her man.

    Gee, if I had done that, my wife may not have outright divorced me, but I *would* have been in the doghouse for a few years.

    Part of the problem is that the paper received the allegations from an apparently flaky source a very short time before the election.

    Yes, that happens. But, someone could have at least called around asking about it. Woodward & Bernstein started with unsure info about Watergate.

  31. I hate how it is mention that Maher is excommunicated anyway. Who cares? that has nothing to do with this situatuion. What are they trying to imply? that she is obviously not a good person or something? At first when I heard about this it was on KSL radio and so of course it was all “it was 25 years ago” and “he’s changed it’s no big deal” type of stuff. But when I got all the details I was horrified! he was married, and former SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER, this is almost as bad as sexual abuse from the catholic bishops imho.

  32. Pingback: What is it with Utah and standing ovations? | Main Street Plaza

  33. Just in from another abuse case: …”a Mormon bishop said Timur Dykes (a Boy Scout Leader) admitted abusing 17 boys.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35944804/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts

    “The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.

    In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys.”

    Now, 17 is could be considered more heinous, but I wonder why this confession to the Bishop was later released to the World.

    These kind of issues cause really confusion over what should be kept confidential under the classic Priest-Confessor rules.

    And, it’s not just a Catholic and/or LDS issue, for this can strike any religion.

  34. I think the legal rules have changed, and rightly so. If you go and talk to a psychologist they’ll they’ll tell you up front that certain things don’t have privilege. Abuse of children or even infirm elderly is NOT covered. I could expect that if a psychologist can be legally required to report such behavior and break confidentiality, priests can too.

  35. Throughout most of the United States, members of the clergy (which definitely includes bishops) are mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect. That means that if the bishop has evidence that abuse has happened, then the bishop may be required, by law, to share the information with child protection service representatives. The Oregon one is a bit vague to me.)

  36. Mike, the laws have been around for quite some time now, and were put in place to provide specific exceptions to the Priest-Confessor privileges that had allowed for cover-ups of abuse. Different states interpret the rules for mandated reporting differently, though.

    I tried to find some definite information on how the US Supreme Court has approached this, but all of the articles are on LexisNexis, and I don’t have an account. FWIW, it looks like it has come before them, though, and they’ve stayed in place.

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