Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Clergy privilege"


No charges for LDS members aware of man's crimes; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688

Ever wonder why church members and officials ignore and conceal child sex crimes? This is one reason: because timid law enforcement officials often “go easy” on religious groups in child molestation cases.

Frankly, we find it hard to believe that the Ada County Sheriff’s hands are completely tied in this case and that he’s powerless. At least 15 complicit church members knowingly endangered children by their silence and their refusal to call police about an admitted child molesting colleague. And nothing can be done?

We don’t believe that all 15 of these adults learned of Stephen R. Young’s crimes through “confession” covered by some “clergy privilege.” If indeed, the Ada County Sheriff honestly believes this, he should be walking the halls of the legislature today lobbying hard to see this predator-friendly law reformed.

In our experience, often, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” We strongly suspect that local law enforcement could find a way to pursue at least some criminal charges against at least some of these callous, reckless church members and officials who kept quiet about horrific child sex crimes.

We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes in the Boise area – especially those with information about Mormon predators – will find the courage to speak up and the wisdom to seek independent help from therapists, support groups and law enforcement, not church officials.

When victims, witnesses and whistleblowers stay silent, kids remain at risk. But when victims, witnesses and whistleblowers come forward, at least there’s a chance for prevention, justice, healing and truth-telling.

And we hope that Idaho lawmakers will look long and hard at the state’s “clergy privilege” laws and consider reforming them so that it’s crystal clear that the actual safety of children trumps the personal beliefs of adults. Idaho citizens should have no doubt whatsoever that protecting kids takes priority over protecting grownups and that stopping devastating crimes is more important than safeguarding personal beliefs.

Finally, the predator confessed to his wife more than a year ago (August 2009). She should have called police immediately. How can a talk between spouses be considered “clergy privilege?”

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