"Jack McCallister, who was formerly a bishop in the Mormon Church, felt that it was very improper for one individual to be alone with a young man and ask all kinds of questions related to sexual matters:
"Standard Church policy is that two priesthood officers must be present to handle Church funds, a check and balance system to prevent financial error and inhibit the temptation to steal. And the Church conducts regular financial audits. How many priesthood officers are required to conduct a personal worthiness interview with a youth? One. And there are no procedures for auditing the actions of these leaders for inappropriate behavior."
Jack McCallister was especially concerned about these "worthiness interviews" because he himself was abused by his bishop in his office. He related the following:
"We were the only ones in the meetinghouse. We shook hands and he put his arms around me. He told me how much the Lord loved me. He felt directly inspired tonight to call me down to his office.... He asked if we could pray together before we talked. He said a lot of really nice things about me to God... I felt very special and very humble. It was one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, eloquent prayers that I've ever heard on my behalf, asking the Lord to bless me, watch over me, care for me, and assuring the Lord of what a fine wonderful young man I was.... Then we sat down in two chairs in front of his desk. He pulled his chair up really close to mine, looked me straight in the eyes through his pink-tinted bifocal lenses. I could see he still had tears in his eyes from the prayer. 'What sincerity!' I thought. 'Maybe some day I can learn how to talk to God with such powerful impressive prayer language.' " (Ibid., pages 167-168)
After some conversation about temporal matters, the bishop proceeded to discuss sexual matters with him and eventually molested him. This abuse caused severe trauma to Jack. He wrote:
"I couldn't figure out what was going on. He was the bishop. I was the obedient but unworthy servant. He was God's chosen leader on earth. Whatever he did was directly authorized by God. My thoughts raced around." (Source)
There are those that feel that many abuse situations result from the Church permitting Adults to "interview" children and teens without another adult present. They argue that the "two-deep" leadership rule in the Boy Scouts, whereby no adult is permitted to be alone with a child or teenager, is an effective deterrent for most pedophiles, and should be applied accross the board for leadership, teachers and other lay clergy working with small children or young adults.
The lax enforcement of policies that permit adults, like the recently convicted Seminary Principle, to be alone with vulnerable teens, they argue, opens the Church up to litigation from angry parents that are not willing to "forgive and forget". Jack's story continues:
Jack McCallister decided to keep the matter secret. Even though he eventually became a bishop, his suffering did not end. To add to his own pain, he learned that his own son was also victimized by another Mormon bishop. In a letter to Gordon B. Hinckley, the current president of the Mormon Church, Jack and his wife, Merradyth, expressed their dismay that things were being swept under the rug:
"In June of 1963, my husband Jack, had been sexually molested by his bishop (Samuel H. Gardener) [a bishop of the Oklahoma First Ward who died in 1967] for two years between 15-17. He was afraid to tell me because I wouldn't love or respect him. After we had been married about four months, he told me what had happened and how ashamed he felt... I believed him.
"In June of 1993, our son, Scott, was 23 years old and recently returned from an honorable mission. He told my husband about being sexually molested between the age of 15-17 by his bishop (Ronald W. Phelps). Scott was ashamed to talk about it prior because he feared the negative reaction of others... I believed him.
"In September of 1993, the three of us talked to our Stake President, Gary James NEWMAN. Scott both told and graphically demonstrated the sexual abuse he suffered... The details and manner of the molestation were discounted and minimized by Pres. NEWMAN. He told us he couldn't believe such a thing was true.... we also wrote you a letter explaining the details of the situation and asking for direct intervention and investigation into the matter from Church Headquarters. We heard nothing... only silence. Our pain increased. We talked with other member parents to see if they were aware of anything that had happened to their family members. We formed an emotional support group for survivors of sexual abuse.... We felt only contempt for us by Pres. NEWMAN. He threatened us to 'either stop talking to the Church members about this or I'll draw up the papers to have you excommunicated for failure to sustain your leaders and apostasy.' He told us... they couldn't accept Scott's word over a priesthood leader held in high esteem...
"Because Pres. NEWMAN was not willing to hear our cries for help and told us to 'do what you have to do... but stop talking to the members of the Church about this or I'll excommunicate you,' we went to the police and filed felony charges against Ron Phelps... The police informed us until there was more evidence developed, it would be difficult to prosecute the case. They believed Scott and recognized the deception used by typical pedophiles with multiple victims....
"A criminal background check revealed Ron Phelps had been arrested for indecent exposure prior to being called as Bishop in 1980 [the charges were later dropped]. He was recently arrested in an Oklahoma University rest-room in Norman Oklahoma on December 3, 1993. He did 'unlawfully, willfully and wrongfully solicit, induce and entice one John Bishop, an undercover police officer, to commit an act of lewdness contrary to the form of the Statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Oklahoma.' (Copy enclosed) We thought it was important to notify others with this public information to protect their children..." (Letter dated March 23, 1994)
These are the same policies that have destroyed the credibility of the Pope and the Catholic Church, which also adhere to the false doctrine of "infallibility". All mortals have weaknesses and to ascribe the attributes of deity to them, only opens the door for slavery and abuse. I believe in Prophets and Revelation, but I also believe in common sense and sound policies. In the above story, the LDS Church assumed liability because of the failure of its appointed leaders to run a background check on the pedophile Bishop.
They also assumed liability when they refused to report the allegations to law enforcement. Unlike Catholic Priests, Mormon lay-clergy are under no obligation to maintain confidentiality when someone confesses or is accused of a crime.
"Neither President Hinckley nor other church leaders in Salt Lake City were anxious to go to bat for the McCallisters.
Significantly, according to a statement made on television, the McCallisters filed felony charges against Ronald Phelps on September 13, 1993, over two months before he was arrested at the University of Oklahoma on December 2, 1993!
On April 20, 1994, The Yucon Review reported that Phelps "pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for outraging public decency...." Local church leaders, however, seem to have been oblivious to the importance of these charges being made against Phelps prior to his arrest. In his zeal to hush up the whole matter Stake President Gary J. Newman sent a letter to Merradyth McCallister threatening her with excommunication:
"This letter is to inform you that the Stake Presidency is considering formal disciplinary action against you, including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication..." (Letter dated July 29, 1994)
On August 2, 1994, Bishop Larry A. Morgan sent a letter to Mrs. McCallister informing her that she had been excommunicated: "It was the decision of the Council that you, Merradyth McCallister, are hereby excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church."
Jack McCallister beat church leaders to the punch and withdrew his membership. In a letter to Bishop Morgan, dated July 24, 1994, he wrote: "I refuse to bow down before this false image. I refuse to be intimidated into silent consent. I refuse to place the reputation of the church ahead of the safety of our children. I refuse to protect child sexual molesters in high places." (Ibid)
When an individual in authority attempts to suppress the voice of innocent victims they become guilty of conspiracy and become co-conspirators in what amounts to a "cover-up". Failure to report a crime that has been reported to you is also considered a felony. Its called "obstruction of justice". An attorney got involved and tried to warn the LDS Church:
It is evident that church leaders made a very serious mistake when they decided to excommunicate church members who were unable to keep silent. These people sincerely believed they were doing their Christian duty. Before the excommunications took place an attorney, Floyd W. Taylor, warned Stake President Gary J. Newman that it would be foolish to cut people off from the church to silence them:
"This firm has been counseling with Jack and Merradyth McCallister... There is more than enough here to put reasonable minds on inquiry. It is regrettable that you and the Church council appeared to be bent on a course of silencing the allegations of parents and victims of possibly abusive conduct perpetrated by persons affiliated with your Church, instead of listening with open minds and trying to find solutions.
"I am Roman Catholic. As you know, my church has experienced multiple charges of sexual abuse by clergy against minors. My church's initial reaction was cover-up. The result was a plethora of lawsuits and astronomical liability losses. One Archdiocese is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Please do not interpret this as a threat of litigation. I am trying to make a plea to common sense and ask that you look upon the experience of the Catholic Church and not follow the same path. The Catholic Church today has reversed its initial course and is openly acknowledging the problem and is trying to do something about it. Your Church should at least be open to the possibility that these allegations may have some substance and that investigating the allegations is a more appropriate way of handling them than trying to silence the accusers through threats of disfellowshipment and excommunication.
"If the McCallisters and others who are accusing LDS officials of unspeakable acts are right, your Church will profit from listening and taking action to protect your most valuable asset, your children.... It is not my desire to be perceived as a legal threat to the LDS Church. The McCallisters love their religion and wish the Church no harm. Since they truly believe what they have alleged; and, if what they are saying is true, the worst thing they could do to your Church would be to become part of a cover-up which would jeopardize the safety of countless Mormon youngsters and open your Church up to the kind of legal quagmire the Catholic Church faces today. We urge you to reconsider your approach to this matter." (Letter written by Floyd W. Taylor, Attorney At Law, dated March 14, 1994) (Ibid)
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