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For week ended November 28, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001

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Mormons jailed for child sex assaults

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormons jailed for child sex assaults
London UK Times 27Nov99 D2
By Stewart Tendler: Crime Correspondent

BRISTOL, ENGLAND -- Four LDS Church members in Bristol, England have been convicted of sexually assaulting children in their congregations over the past 17 years. A two-year police investigation, started after one of the victims met an LDS Church member on the street and remembered abuse he had "blacked out" as a child.

Martin Hayward, 45, Kenneth Gunton, 72, Jeremy Brown, 29, and Murray Collins, 51, have all been convicted and given various sentences for their crimes. Brown was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl during a church "confession" according to the Times.

Collins' abuse was first reported 17 years before the investigation began, according to the Times, when a victim went to local Church authorities, leading to repeated Church disciplinary procedings against Collins. The Times claims that Collins was "allowed to keep his position of power in the church," despite repeatedly abusing children. The police were never notified.

Local police say that their investigation was also frustrated because the LDS Church refused to provide documents relevant to the case. "We had no co-operation whatsoever from the Mormon church. They refused to give us records voluntarily and indicated that if there was any attempt to obtain them they would vociferously defend any legal action we took," said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Johnson, who led the investigation. An LDS Church spokeswoman explained that the records were confidential and covered by priest-penitent privilege, "Church policy is that we will never discuss individual cases. That is the matter between the person disciplined, the church and the Lord. The church would always comply with the law of the land."

In addition to the four LDS Church members convicted, two others, Police officers Sergeant Mark Lewis, 36, and PC Anthony Henley, 27, both of whom are also members of the LDS Church, were acquitted of the charges against them.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information