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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 30, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 31Jul00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Bishop Maintains He Wasn't Required To Report

SANDY, UTAH -- LDS Bishop David West Maxwell says that the prosecutors who charged him with failing to report a case of sexual abuse between two teenagers are wrong, and that he wasn't required to report the abuse, given the circumstances. Maxwell claims both teenagers committed acts that could be called sexual abuse, and that both confessed to him, obligating him to keep the matter confidential. Under Utah law clergy do not have to report sexual abuse if their only source of information is the perpetrator.

Maxwell was arrested and charged with failure to report sexual abuse in March after the teenage girl told her LDS Seminary teacher that she had been raped. Maxwell only went to the police about the matter after he learned that the Seminary teacher had reported the claim.

But Maxwell says that he counselled with both teenagers following the December 1999 incident, discovering that the girl had first touched the boy's genitals in a consensual act. His lawyer, John Welsh, says that because the girl was older and more mature, the touching makes her a perpetrator also. Maxwell reportedly counselled with the Stake President and called the LDS Church's help line about the incident and was told he did not need to report the abuse.

But prosecutors disagree with Maxwell's interpretation. They say that consensual touching is not a crime under Utah law. And Salt Lake County deputy attorney Jennifer Barton goes further, saying that if in doubt, Maxwell should have reported, "If there is a doubt as to who is a perpetrator, report it and let the proper authorities sort it out," Barton said.

Meanwhile, the girl's charge that the boy forced her to have sex with him has led to a charge of first-degree felony rape, which will go to trial next week. Maxwell's trial has been postponed for a month while Judge Donald Sawaya considers Welsh's arguments, which were filed in support of a motion to dismiss the charges against Maxwell.


Fight Continues Over Abuse Reporting
Salt Lake Tribune 29Jul00 D1
By Stephen Hunt: Salt Lake Tribune


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