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For week ended February 13, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Police Investigating LDS Bishops for Failing to Report Abuse
Salt Lake Tribune 10Feb00 D1
Associated Press

LOGAN, UTAH -- Police in Logan, Utah are looking into allegations that three LDS bishops failed to report child sexual abuse they were made aware of. The claims arise in the case of Jay Toombs, 44, of Benson, Utah, who is facing three first-degree counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly fondling a 10-year-old boy in 1993 and 1994.

"There have been a significant number of allegations made," says Cache County Attorney Scott Wyatt said. "We have filed charged based on one boy's claims. We are looking at others." And the allegations against the bishops apparently come from the boy's family, who claim they told the bishop's about the abuse.

Wyatt notes that failing to report child abuse is a crime, "The tragedy happens [in this type of case] when someone who has an obligation to report abuse, doesn't," Wyatt said. "Then they later discover this person has continued to perpetrate. That's hard to deal with. It's hard to recognize your inaction could have been the cause of creating other victims."

Clergy, including LDS bishop's are not obligated to report crimes heard in "a confessional" capacity, according to Wyatt. Since many religions hear the confessions of their members, legally requiring clergy to report crimes heard in confessions would keep many members from confessing their sins to clergy. However, if a member of the clergy hears about a crime from someone other than the offender, they must report it, according to Wyatt.

In this case, investigator's believe family members of the victim told the LDS bishops, and that the bishop's failed to report the abuse.

The case against Toombs is just starting. He is being held in the Cache County Jail pending a bail hearing.


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