Summarized by Kent Larsen
Prosecutions of LDS Bishops Make National News
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The prosecutions of two Salt Lake area LDS Bishops
have made national news through an Associated Press story on one Bishop's
challenge to the constitutionality of Utah's abuse-reporting statute. The
Associated Press reports Bishop Bruce R. Christensen as saying that it is
unfair to expect him to act as a police officer.
Salt Lake area newspapers have not reported any prior prosecutions of clergy
under the rarely-used abuse reporting law, but prosecutor Angela Angela
Micklos maintains that the statute is fair. Micklos says she can't recall
that the law has ever been challenged before.
Meanwhile, the LDS Church expressed its support for the Bishops. In
statements released to Mormon News, LDS Church representatives said that the
Church has reviewed the cases and believes that the Bishops acted properly.
Bishop David W. Maxwell is charged in the case of two minors, members of his
congregation, both of whom confessed to him sexual contact. However, the
girl claims that the boy raped her. But Maxwell believed that both minors
had perpetrated abuse, leaving him unable to report either under
priest-penitent privelege. Attorney Von G. Keetch of Kirton &McConkie, who
represents the LDS Church said, "We have every reason to believe that Bishop
Maxwell handled this situation properly, in full accordance with Utah law
and Church policy. We expect him to be exonerated by the judicial process."
Bishop Bruce R. Christensen's case involves an abused spouse who told him
that her husband had allowed their 13-month-old daughter to touch his
genitals while both were in the bath. Christensen claims the reported child
abuse was vague and minor, and the LDS Church supports him. Church spokesman
Randy Riplinger said, "A review indicates that Bishop Christensen handled
this situation properly, in accordance with Utah law and Church policy. The
Church has long been on record as abhorring abuse in any form. Local Church
leaders are trained to comply with all reporting requirements and to respond
with sensitivity to help victims through the painful and often difficult
process of recovery. "
Mormon bishop decries law requiring clergy to report crimes
Raleigh NC News & Observer (AP) 17Aug00 N1