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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 20, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 18Aug00

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
Associated Press


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