Summarized by Kent Larsen
Failure to Report Charges vs LDS Bishop Dismissed
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An LDS Bishop has escaped charges that he failed to
report a case of sexual abuse of an infant. On the recommendation of Salt
Lake District Attorney David Yocum, Judge Roger Livingston dismissed the
misdemeanor charge against LDS Bishop Bruce Christensen i the case of a
one-year-old allegedly abused by her father. Yocum told the court that the
child's mother had changed her story. "The police reports were very
specific, [but] now she's saying something different," Yocum told the court.
The mother originally told police that her husband had alloed the
one-year-old to fondle him while in the bath. She said she had told Bishop
Christensen about the incident in passing, while she was seeking help in
getting out of her marriage. Now she says she gave the Bishop a hypothetical
situation. "It's not a prosecutable case now," said Yocum. "The law wouldn't
require him to report a hypothetical situation."
But defense attorney Bradley Rich didn't focus on the hypothetical nature of
the story in his remarks to the press, instead claiming that the story
wasn't the central issue of the woman's conversation with her Bishop. He
calls the law requiring clergy to report "a bad piece of legislation,"
forcing the clergy to do the work of the police. Rich had planned to
challenge the constitutionality of the Failure to Report law.
The resolution of the case leaves just one LDS Bishop charged under the
failure to report statute. Bishop David Maxwell of Sandy, Utah is charged
with failing to report the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by a
15-year-old boy, both members of Maxwell's congregation. Earlier this year
another LDS Bishop was charged under the law, but he entered a "diversion"
agreement under which the charges will be dismissed after he completes 100
hours of community service and pays court costs.
No Trial For Bishop Over Silence
Salt Lake Tribune 3Oct00 N1
By Stephen Hunt: Salt Lake Tribune