Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Church Settles West Virginia Child Abuse Lawsuit
(Mormon Lawsuit Settled Out of Court)
WVVA TV6 Bluefield WV (MSNBC) 28Mar00 N1
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune
Lawyer for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints and Raleigh General Hospital have settled a child abuse case out of court.
BECKLEY, WEST VIRGINIA -- Lawyers for the LDS Church and for Raleigh
General Hospital have agrreed to settle a $750 million child abuse
lawsuit out of court. The lawsuit accused the Church and the hospital
of failing to report a case of child sexual abuse by an LDS Church
member. Trial in the case was to begin next week.
The case was settled for an undisclosed amount of money, according to
Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge H. L. Kirkpatrick, who says that
the hospital and the Church told him of the settlement late last
week. The agreement will be presented for the Judge's approval on
The lawsuit arose following the conviction of James Adams, who was an
LDS Church member, of 37 counts of sexually abusing his son and
daughter. Adams, who plead guilty, was sentenced to 130 years in
prison. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the children. It claims
that LDS stake president Blair Meldrum knew about the abuse, but
conspired with other Church officials, including Raleigh General
Hospital Administrator Ken Holt, to keep the abuse secret. Adams
worked for Holt at the hospital.
The LDS Church's counsel in the lawsuit, William E. Watson, said that
all parties were satisfied with the settlement. "Raleigh General
Hospital and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
specifically deny any wrongdoing or liability for the claims. From
the outset, the church and the hospital have desired to assist the
minor child, and this agreement provides the means to accomplish that
objective. It also pays the expenses which she has incurred," said
Watson in a statement released yesterday.
Patrick Nance, an attorney representing the children, agrees, "In the
short run the settlement helps my client get some medical attention
that she needs very badly. In the long run, I hope it makes the
church more cautious in the future when it learns a child is being
abused." He continued, "I would say the family is satisfied with the
settlement. The church and hospital recognize things could have been
done better, and that's what the family wanted all along."
But LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills says that the Church hasn't
changed its training of clergy since the case was filed. "Our
training efforts are extensive and ongoing." He says that the Church
started training its local leaders in sexual abuse matters in the
1970s, and established a 24-hour hotline for local leaders to call
for advice on how to handle the issues.
Watson said that the case doesn't change the Church's position,
"There was no proof in this case that the church inappropriately
dealt with abuse and that's why the case settled as it did. . . . The
whole issue revolved around whether members of the clergy are
obligated to keep confessions confidential." He says it is still
clear that the Church must keep confessions confidential.
However, the case may not be over. Nance and co-counsel Michael
Sullivan also represent Adams' son, who is now 19, and have notified
the Church and the Hospital of the son's intent to file a lawsuit.
LDS Church, hospital settle child-abuse case out of court
Deseret News (AP) 28Mar00 N1
LDS Church to Settle Sexual-Abuse Lawsuit
Salt Lake Tribune 29Mar00 N1
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune