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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended October 20, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 16Oct00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Bishop Criticizes Abuse Reporting Law

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- LDS Bishop Bruce R. Christensen, who was charged earlier this year with failing to report child abuse, is saying that the law is wrong and that his case was mishandled by the prosecution, according to a report in the Deseret News. The charges against Christensen were dropped earlier this month after prosecutors interviewed the mother who originally made the report.

The charges against Christensen arose in the acase of a 13-month-old girl allegedly abused by her father. According to police reports, the mother told Christensen in an interview about the abuse, but when she was interviewed by prosecutors, she said she had presented Christensen with a hypothetical situation.

In the Deseret News, Christensen expressed frustration over how prosecutors handled his case. "Why did the prosecutor wait to interview the primary witness?" Christensen asked. "Why wasn't the primary witness interviewed before the charge was filed?" But Deputy District Attorney Angela Micklos said that this is routine. "It is very routine for us in filing charges to use the police officer's information," Micklos said, noting the logistical difficulty of interviewing every victims before filing cases. "Unfortunately that's not terribly practical. We'd have our office flooded with victims all the time."

Christensen also criticized the abuse reporting law for its failure to carefully address when clergy should report. "The law ties my hands as well as those of every other clergyman in the state of Utah. I cannot be both a police informant and a confidant to my parishioners at the same time, and this law requires me to do both." But again Micklos disagreed, "I'm not sure [the law has] ever been challenged before," Micklos said. "But the statute is constitutional on its face."


LDS bishop questions how DA handled charges against him
Deseret News 15Oct00 N1
By Angie Welling: Deseret News staff writer
Christensen says report statute is unfair to clerics


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