EP 595 – Preventing and Addressing Abuse within the Church

TWiM_EP595_Abuse_LDS_Church_Mormon
Jennifer Roach

One would have had to be quite isolated last week not to read AP’s story about a father and member of the Church sexually abusing his daughters, and Church officials’ reported failure to act appropriately and help the victims despite knowledge of the incidents. There is a ton of information to work through on this story, with some saying AP isn’t being fair, and others wondering if the Church is more concerned about its image and protecting the institution than helping victims.

We’re joined this week by Jennifer Roach, MDic, LMHC. She has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for three-and-a-half years. Previously, she was an ordained pastor in another denomination. Jennifer is a survivor of abuse and works as a licensed mental health therapist. We’re thankful she’s here to provide insights on a difficult topic.

It’s clear the Church failed to protect victims in this case. The safeguards in place didn’t do their job. But that doesn’t mean the Church has nefarious intent. Please sit with us as we work through this issue. Other news follows after about 45 minutes.

Some corrections: In our discussion, we had noted that the information at the time made it unclear whether either bishop was explicitly told not to report anything. Since the time of recording, the AP released a video of Bishop Herrod, in his own voice, saying that the helpline told him he was not allowed to call; his hands were tied. He later says that he passed that same information along to the next bishop. It’s also important to note that an Arizona grand jury took up the question of bishop culpability last year in case GJ21-0072 and did not charge either bishop with a crime.

Abuse in the Church Links

Other Latter-day Saint News

Transcript

00:00.00
Geoff Openshaw
Hey, everybody? How’s it going happy August to you welcome to another edition of This Week in Mormons the premieer Latter-day Saint News Podcast because we’ve been doing it for a very very very very long time literally longer than my marriage which is bizarre anyway, though I am your ah host and founder Jeff Hopemansot’s nice to be with all of you this week. We’ve got a lot to talk about lots to go. What’s going on for sure. So I’d like to welcome my co-hosts guests this week. That’s why plural we are a trio this time around which is always a lot of fun Liz Buzzfeed you’re back in the house how you doing Liz what’s going on up in Highland Utah everything just.

00:28.39
Liz Busby
Doing great ah just winding down the summer it’s It’s been a crazy like vacation every three days or whatever or kids are in camps and running like crazy and school starts next week. So.

00:43.38
Geoff Openshaw
You know life in the a to one is just like 1 big sunset. You know it’s just a dream that’s great I’m glad you’re all. We’re also happy to welcome this week new to the show. Ah, Jennifer Roach who lives in Washington State and has been a member of the church for about none years and before she joined the church. She was ordained at another christian denomination but she’s here this week in particular because she also works as a licensed mental health therapist and if you hear that you probably have some ideas where our discussion might be going today. But. Jim. We’re really happy to have you here this week. Thanks for joining us. So um, so some like a couple of things happened over the weekend.

01:13.17
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, thanks for having me.

01:19.80
Liz Busby
Some some minor things.

01:22.96
Geoff Openshaw
You know it’s it’s like it’s like we were collecting stories for the week and it’s kind of like well you know there’s a little bit of random things here and there some stuff in the media kind of one of those grab bag weeks and then I believe it was Friday was it not was was this None day I remember I woke up.

01:33.78
Liz Busby
Thursday thursday.

01:34.77
Jennifer Roach
Thursday.

01:39.10
Geoff Openshaw
I woke up and I get Ap alerts for this and that and I had an ap alert on my phone that said basically you know 7 years of I think the actual headline is 7 years of abuse how the how mormon officials let it happen and I was like okay I’m probably going to need to read this and see what’s going down like is this our spotlight.

01:50.55
Liz Busby
Mormon officials. Let it happen.

01:57.75
Geoff Openshaw
Is this is that what’s going on with us here. Um, and interestingly enough it was written by Michael Resendes who was one of the actual reporters on the spotlight team that exposed a lot of abuse. Yeah, so.

02:04.88
Jennifer Roach
Extraordinary reporter high high high respect for him.

02:11.87
Geoff Openshaw
And that’s None thing to remember in this people I think a lot of people have viewed this as we get into it like ap out. You know it’s a hit job by None for what this is a p like a p folks. They’re one the they’re the folks other people use to then spin their stories out of ap information. Um, so by way of a little bit of background if you happen to miss this somehow. Chronicles the story of None ars of course and in the life of a family with a father who sexually abused his daughters. Um, the wife was also she wasn’t involved in that but she didn’t do much about it. But the crux they’re trying to get out here is that the church has a hotline in which the bishops can use. When they have questions about abuse and ideally or ostensibly it functions so you can call up see what’s going on and see what further action you should take um I’ve been exposed to this training myself I’m in a bishop Rick I’ve taken the protecting youth training I understand what this is about but in this case, you see that whatever that process is supposed to be ah it failed. This family in this case because um, and and maybe I’m wrong in exactly saying that maybe I could be corrected but um, basically what happened is no abuse was reported by None bishops in succession eventually the perpetrator of course was ah was in prison and I believe actually died by suicide while he’ in prison use.

03:24.21
Jennifer Roach
He did before his trial.

03:28.12
Geoff Openshaw
For his trial but the real the real crux of this here though is that there’s a system that’s supposed to be in place to protect the youth of the church and what ap is getting at here is saying like does this system exist to protect the victims and to ensure that abuse doesn’t happen and get them out of there. Or is it a system that’s run by lawyers from Curtin Mcconkey that exists to sort of keep the church out of legal hot water and that’s been the big discussion over the past two days I simplified a lot of that. Yeah yeah, um, so.

03:47.34
Liz Busby
To the.

03:54.51
Jennifer Roach
It’s a it’s a fair question like it’s important to discuss.

03:58.19
Liz Busby
And I think the truth is right somewhere in the middle of those 2 right? It is a necessary thing for bishops to know when they’re legally obligated to report because they can’t they’re volunteers. They’re UPS truck drivers and you know ceos of tech companies. They don’t know.

04:09.82
Geoff Openshaw
Um, yeah.

04:17.26
Liz Busby
The law around when they need to report so they need advice. Ah.

04:19.75
Jennifer Roach
It’s it. Also it I think one of the bigger pieces of this that has been missed is I’ve heard a lot of folks say like why don’t they have a social worker answering the phone like ah or a therapist somebody who can tell these bishops like here’s how to take care of the kids and I get the sentiment of that I really do. However.

04:28.70
Liz Busby
Are.

04:38.36
Jennifer Roach
Um, the None person that you want collecting details of a possible crime is not a therapist therapists aren’t trained to do that We are not trained forensically. Some psychologists are most therapists are not and there is a long history here. Ah, therapists actually completely mucking up cases because they took the details instead of somebody who’s actually trained to forensicallyically collect details especially when it knows children.

04:59.51
Geoff Openshaw
Mm.

05:04.75
Geoff Openshaw
So who should be so obviously we understand not therapists but should it be lawyers then are lawyers the one to take those details when it involves children. Yeah yeah, yeah.

05:10.57
Jennifer Roach
Um, well, but they these are crimes right? So so yeah I mean it has to be lawyers I don’t know I I don’t know who else would know as much about what what? what to do in a like if you commit a crime you’re probably going to get your own lawyer right.

05:10.90
Liz Busby
Um I.

05:27.58
Liz Busby
Um, yeah.

05:30.13
Jennifer Roach
I Don’t know it. Lawyers are not the only people who work on that line. There seems to be a couple different tiers of it am yeah.

05:35.80
Geoff Openshaw
M.

05:38.15
Liz Busby
Yeah, there was a follow up in the desert news from somebody who works at the hotline who was saying yeah there are social workers and therapists there as well to help with but that’s like the second step. The None step is like make sure that we’re doing this right.

05:46.87
Jennifer Roach
Gap.

05:56.13
Liz Busby
That we’re reporting correctly and getting things to the police if they need it.

05:56.25
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, you do you do not want therapy yet. You do not want therapists being the None person to to collect those details it just it does not go well.

06:05.25
Geoff Openshaw
And it’s interesting that you say all that and let’s look at like what the church’s actual stance is if you look in handbook section thirty 8 6 ah 2 That’s where it talks about abuse and of course bear in mind this is just for context.

06:11.81
Liz Busby
I.

06:20.35
Geoff Openshaw
The church has been steadily updating its handbook and over the past handful of years and the story we’re referencing of course took place essentially well before that effort. So some of the standards have changed I’m not saying I’ll think the church has turned a blind eye to things. But I believe even some of that training. We do now for protecting youth some of that didn’t even exist a couple until a couple of years ago in the way they do it.

06:26.82
Jennifer Roach
Um, it is.

06:36.60
Jennifer Roach
Yeah.

06:40.16
Geoff Openshaw
So that’s that’s 1 thing worth considering so I do think the church deserves plenty of credit because it has worked more proactively to up its game in this area. Um.

06:47.70
Jennifer Roach
Every every church across the board is in that scenario that once the the metoo shift kind of happens most of the churches either actively or begrudgingly. Had to look at their policies and change Policies. So this it like this is happening across the board in denominations.

07:02.94
Geoff Openshaw
Interesting. Yeah yeah, um so of course the main section about abuse you know it speaks of the evil of abuse and what’s wrong with it and that all members especially parents and leaders are encouraged to be alert and diligent. Do all. They can to protect children and others from abuse if members members become aware of instances of abuse.

07:04.59
Liz Busby
Yeah.

07:22.42
Geoff Openshaw
They report it to civil authorities and counsel with the bishop church leaders should take reports of abuse seriously and never disregard them and the last paragraph there though says when abuse occurs the first and immediate responsibility of church leaders is to help those who have been abused and to protect vulnerable persons from future abuse. Leaders should not encourage a person to remain in a home or a situation that is abusive or unsafe now I think it? Yeah, yeah, yeah, if I’m not mistaken I mean I think there there are numerous stories of.

07:45.54
Liz Busby
And I think that did happen in the past sometimes and so it’s good that we’ve updated that.

07:58.85
Geoff Openshaw
Especially abusive marriages and they say like well no, let’s help your husband repent and get through this and like of course we care about the spiritual welfare of somebody. But um, None thing that’s curious about this is you know we don’t want people to stay there if they shouldn’t that there’s a bit of it’s a bit. More complicated when you’re dealing with like None ar old children like.

08:16.92
Liz Busby
Um, no.

08:18.26
Jennifer Roach
It’s also it’s also incredibly more complicated when it wasn’t just sexual abuse going on in their home. There was a great amount of physical abuse the the urge I have yeah.

08:27.97
Geoff Openshaw
Mm.

08:28.85
Liz Busby
Because you’ve read through all the chord documents and it’s It’s much worse than the Ap art wolf like.

08:35.58
Jennifer Roach
Ah, yeah, the I mean the court documents are out there. They’re they’re pretty easy to find if you have a sensitive little hurt I if you can get away with not reading them then please don’t read them. They’re awful I didn’t sleep for 2 nights right? So but in those documents we see a lot of the physical abuse.

08:38.76
Geoff Openshaw
M.

08:48.61
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

08:54.86
Jennifer Roach
Narrateated what as well. This was the incredibly violent man here’s the thing that most people I think don’t understand and it hasn’t been talked about really well the most dangerous time for a woman or child who live in a domestic violence situation is when they try to leave that’s.

09:09.32
Liz Busby
I have.

09:11.19
Geoff Openshaw
Mm.

09:12.50
Jennifer Roach
That’s when that’s when you get murdered and to suggest to a ah a Dv victim that she just up and and move her kids you and I and every other adult with ah with a functioning brain like that’s what we want and statistically. You’re putting that woman in an incredible amount of danger and those women know that intuitively because they all make little attempts to leave and get severely punished for it. So there’s a lot of factors in that home going on.

09:38.53
Geoff Openshaw
Well yeah, yeah.

09:41.90
Liz Busby
Yeah, it’s never just as easy as when we report it then it will stop. It is It is not a so silver bullet and usually you there’s multiple reports that have to happen before the people finally get out of the situation.

09:53.22
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, that’s true. That’s true in DV. it’s also true in sexual abuse where where often and I I am a victim of sexual abuse too right? I have fallen into this trap myself. You tell the story you take the story back. You tell the story you take the story back. You tell the story especially when people are.

09:55.58
Geoff Openshaw
Mm.

10:12.23
Jennifer Roach
Confused and hurting it and that’s no slam on victims but that is how it is confusing So when you look in the court documents you see lots of things like oh the bishops were told about the about the the sexual abuse.

10:14.94
Liz Busby
It is confusing.

10:26.48
Jennifer Roach
But then you see other things like there’s a quote from one of the Fbi agents Jay Allen where he says he he’s reporting on the conversation that the mom and the bishop had and the bishop asked the mom when is it going to be enough. How much are you willing to take and mom says to him and. Incredibly reasonable thing to say she says if you lays a hand on my kids I’m out. However, he’d been laying hands on her children for years and on her she is she is very mentally ill that that’s not a slam on her. That’s just her her mental state.

11:02.00
Geoff Openshaw
Oh.

11:04.79
Jennifer Roach
Um, and so she she she lies a lot she lies to the Fbi she calls them up explains that she was lying and then continues to lie like her stories are unreliable. So you have this I you know one since my heart really goes out to these bishops on the one hand we see like oh gosh you knew all these terrible things and on the other hand he thinks. Ah, hand hasn’t been laid on the kids what is missing in the court documents which which no one except for the people involved in this case, know the truth here what exactly were the bishops told and when and.

11:37.35
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

11:40.10
Jennifer Roach
That is a question that is unanswerable. At this point they haven’t spoken. It’s not in the court documents. We don’t know like correct.

11:43.22
Geoff Openshaw
And I doubt and I doubt they will yeah well at least based on what we do know even with the bishops having having not spoken yet I mean do we feel like either of them was in a place where they should have not. There’s.

12:01.71
Jennifer Roach
Um, absolutely they should have the the fact that they did not report caused those 2 girls additional suffering. Can you imagine what that would have been like they’re still showing up those kids.

12:02.23
Geoff Openshaw
Legal Requirements Whatever but should they have reported what was going on to the authorities. Yeah.

12:21.59
Jennifer Roach
And their mom not dad so much. They’re still showing up at their ward every single Sunday morning mom plays piano in primary right help is like within arm’s grasp, but but it just can’t quite get coordinated to get it to them. Um.

12:23.75
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

12:28.40
Liz Busby
Now.

12:39.83
Jennifer Roach
Ah, we we failed those girls we made their suffering worse when when m one I always forget what the ap calls her MK something like that the court calls the you know the guard caused the girls I’m one and them to.

12:50.91
Liz Busby
Um, yeah I think it’s M k.

12:51.77
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, yeah.

12:56.58
Jennifer Roach
When m one says in that Ap article I hate mormons they’re the worst people ever. She’s allowed to say that right nobody in our church needs to shut her up ah around that she’s allowed to say that all day long. Those 2 girls deserve whatever settlement is coming to them. Um, we made we made their lives worse. We are not the only thing that maybe worse but we got we we need to accept responsibility in that.

13:22.34
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, um.

13:22.55
Liz Busby
And it’s totally fair to say that and then also say but I don’t think the Helpline exists to cover up abuse. In this case, something went wrong, but it doesn’t mean that the helpline is corrupt. There’s a difference between those two things.

13:29.87
Jennifer Roach
Correct.

13:30.89
Geoff Openshaw
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, a.

13:34.39
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, there’s there are so many things that went wrong. In this case, the help the helpline failed the 15 other systems that were in place not by the church just by society and families. All of those also failed.

13:48.33
Geoff Openshaw
So so speaking of the help lengths that’s been kind of in the crosshairs and in particular over the past few days um what what do we think would have led if they spoke with lawyers would have led the lawyers.

13:51.65
Jennifer Roach
This is yeah.

13:51.92
Liz Busby
Um.

13:59.25
Jennifer Roach
Um.

14:03.38
Geoff Openshaw
To tell them? No, you don’t need to report the abuse I know there’s some slightly conflicting kind of statements having read through some things is it like that they actually say don’t report it. Do they only say you’re not required to report it under state law which is a little bit of a distinction. But why do we think they would say that right? We know if the help line of course exists to.

14:07.40
Jennifer Roach
Um.

14:13.67
Jennifer Roach
Yeah.

14:21.86
Geoff Openshaw
and and I know it it functions. Well oftentimes I know many bishops who have used it and they’ve counseled them according like here are the actions you take, Etc, etc at the same time the bishops I’ve talked to have been in ones were reporting is a requirement. So I think these lawyers also know that so it’s conjecture on our part but like what do we think.

14:22.43
Jennifer Roach
Um.

14:30.99
Jennifer Roach
A.

14:36.99
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, you know it it. It’s a It’s a fair question. Thank you it it. It is a fair question like what broke down here First we don’t actually know.

14:39.66
Geoff Openshaw
Why do we think they told them not to take any action in a situation like this.

14:45.12
Liz Busby
There’s a difference between not reporting and not taking action.

14:45.98
Geoff Openshaw
Sorry sorry thank you Liz! Yes, fair fair.

14:55.50
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

14:55.75
Liz Busby
And it’s impossible to know.

14:56.88
Jennifer Roach
What they were told. Yeah and we don’t have records of that even the I mean the ap reporter could not have pieced together the the helpline thing from the Arizona documents alone he had to get leaked the West Virginia documents that are on a completely unrelated case for him to understand oh this is what the helpline is. These court documents just do not talk that much about it. So we don’t have the answer. However, if you want speculation um Arizona is one of the states where clergy do have an exception. My imagination of how the phone call to the helpline went was something like there’s a couple in my church. The man is abusing the child. The wife knows about it bishop had reason we can come back to this but Bishop had reasons to believe at least at that point that it had stopped um that the option it yeah and and we can get into the details of that if you want but.

15:48.46
Liz Busby
Because that’s what he was told probably.

15:55.77
Jennifer Roach
The the advice then becomes you have the clergy option to not report there. There was a plan in place for helping this family it failed. Um, if I could rewind time they would report right? and it’s not what happened.

16:13.47
Geoff Openshaw
Oh.

16:14.87
Jennifer Roach
I don’t believe for a second that the the helpline told them don’t report. You’re gonna hurt the church with which is which is what people are saying right? but that’s Twitter or whatever. Um.

16:19.27
Geoff Openshaw
No no.

16:26.57
Liz Busby
Ah, it has not been a happy place this weekend.

16:26.73
Geoff Openshaw
That’s where I get my best information I mean what do you? What? So no Twitter’s been very angry.

16:30.62
Jennifer Roach
You’re the worst I have not visited very frequently. So that’s how I’m mistake saying yet deep.

16:36.34
Liz Busby
Um, ah a new funny. Real.

16:38.26
Geoff Openshaw
That’s a good idea. Yeah I mean there’s there’s there. There’s there’s pitchforks out and you have to like we talk about these victims here and and the parents who adopted them were also recent commerce to the church and through this experience they asked their records to be removed. Um, yeah.

16:46.69
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah, dip yep and understandably.

16:56.35
Geoff Openshaw
Understandably and I’m I’m worried about a bit of ah of that kind of level of backlash I mean like even reading through a lot of this this weekend trying to have a level mind in processing all but it’s probably good. We’re recording now a handful of days later than when it happened because I was like Livid over the weekend I’m just like are you freaking kidding me because like I was telling my wife.

17:07.00
Liz Busby
Later.

17:08.28
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, yeah.

17:14.56
Geoff Openshaw
If I were a bishop and I again we don’t know exactly what they said on the helpline. But if they if they said something like it’s up to you to report it then Okay, but if they actually said no, you don’t need to report this I probably would have been like yeah okay I’m reporting it anyway and let the dominoes fall where they may and.

17:16.79
Jennifer Roach
You.

17:25.99
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, the the characterization though that the bishops just sat on their hands while these two girls were being raped is not true that is not what happened. So.

17:32.58
Geoff Openshaw
Who.

17:37.26
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, well elaborate on that Gen What? what? What do? um.

17:43.94
Jennifer Roach
The again the mom complicates things here. Um the bishops were working with the family they did not understand something really important about the mom’s mental health I want to be careful. How I say this? um, mom’s on the autism spectrum. Spectrum she has a couple other diagnoses as well. Most people with those diagnoses do not allow their children to be abused right? and she is sane enough that she knows right from wrong, right? So these are not excuses for why she did and it’s not saying oh this is what autistic people do right? but her version. Of autism is this very very black and white version where she believes that if she can put things in black and white categories. She actually is changing reality here’s here’s an example at None point she finds a ah cell phone that has. Pornography of her daughters recorded on it. Her solution to the problem was to smash the phone and that in her mind problems taken care of right? She had many many family rules about the children are not allowed to sit on dad’s lap that. Ah. Eventually that turns into the girls aren’t allowed to be alone with dad eventually. It’s none of the children are allowed to be home with dad dad didn’t follow any of those rules. None of them worked but in mom’s mind every time she makes a new rule. It’s a friend. It’s a clean slate. This is nonsense to all of us. But it. But that’s the state of mind that she’s coming through so the the bishop is trying to work with this family trying to get mom to report trying to get dad to report trying to do all of these kinds of interventions. Um, ultimately, they don’t work. Because abuse keeps happening even though mom thinks she’s stopping it by breaking cell phones their effort. The Church’s Efforts Fail here and ultimately dad is just excommunicated.

19:43.26
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, what do we make of the ah also been in the news a lot the laws vary by State and so the the concept of you know, like priest penitent privilege for example, which is similar to but not exactly the same as like Attorney client privilege that kind of thing.

19:52.69
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah, yeah.

20:01.96
Geoff Openshaw
As the idea and yeah, there are many states states that protect someone because they that way somebody a penitent can confess things and and without fear of repercussions at least legally ah and and that is the case in some states and I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that like one those just shouldn’t be the laws like full out.

20:08.11
Jennifer Roach
And.

20:21.72
Geoff Openshaw
Um, that’s a whole other discussion. We could have but do we feel like that’s something we need to revisit from a church perspective because I’ve seen a lot of takes that seem to be saying sure we’re not encouraging anything where we we might have the system might have failed but the church is in many ways kind of trying to do the legal maneuvering and minimum it has to do. To get through these processes like ah if reporting is required. They’ll say so if there is privilege then they just kind of like hang out and it depends and so I’ve really seen this concept of priest penitent privilege just kind of come under fire over the past couple of days

20:54.64
Jennifer Roach
I I think it’s 28 states that still have some version of it. Um, it’s absolutely an older way of thinking. It’s ah it’s a pre me too way of thinking ten years ago this wasn’t even on the.

21:10.89
Geoff Openshaw
Me.

21:11.52
Jennifer Roach
Anybody’s radar of should this exist or shouldn’t it that the Catholic Church scandal breaks and and stuff started with that should those law change. Yeah, probably. Um, they were there for a reason and they were there for a long time. So it’s not like oh my gosh. What are all these terrible terrible states doing. They just haven’t caught up yet.

21:29.97
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, yeah, do you do you think there’s a lot many people would argue though that like those who are perhaps even the abusers will be more inclined to talk to their bishop if they feel like. That that’s open and that it’s not a guaranteed legal action against them. But there’s some I’ve said I’ve said that that’s just an old way of thinking and that’s nonsense.

21:44.81
Jennifer Roach
Stood. The research the research on this. Um, that’s probably the most current and most relevant actually has to do with nurses and doctors. Um, you could throw therapists into that too. Although they’re not in the research on this nurses doctors and therapists are encouraged by our licensing boards. To tattle on each other constantly right? So you see you see your fellow nurse doing something wrong. You need to say something right? That’s nurses and doctors and therapists are told this all the time there is some research that says in the laws or in the states where these laws are most heavily penalized. Um. If you snitch on somebody and like that person is going to get in a lot of trouble. Um, reporting by fellow nurses or doctors actually goes down so that the the higher the the consequence the lower. The reporting. Does that apply here I don’t know um, it’s not here’s the thing everybody understandably wants a magic bullet for how to fix the child abuse problem I do too right. The problem is that the helpline isn’t the magic bullet background checks aren’t the magic bullet um, these kind of laws are not the magic bullet. There’s ah, a coalition of about 20 things that all serve together to protect children. There’s still a lot of holes in them. But no one of them can be taken out individually even the None deep law even a rule in our church that doesn’t work it works or I should say it works when it works great. But do you know you’ve heard of the Larry Nassar case he abuses his victims in front of their parent. Their parents are in the same room right.

23:42.80
Liz Busby
Now.

23:43.22
Jennifer Roach
Which like okay like get 2 deep block too deep rule great until it’s not so nothing is nothing is a magic but bullet certainly not background checks.

23:51.51
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, but like you said, maybe all these things together kind of the Swiss cheese approach the different you seem not to like the and you don’t like the metaphor. Okay, so second I said Swiss cheese you were like.

23:56.60
Jennifer Roach
We we.

24:00.61
Liz Busby
Um, we we always need more. But yeah it, It’s so hard because the case of what would happen if we didn’t have the church Helpline is a counterfactual. We can’t know.

24:01.60
Jennifer Roach
Um, we need more. But yeah.

24:14.46
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, yeah.

24:16.55
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

24:18.46
Liz Busby
We can’t know what’s prevented. We can’t know what isn’t prevented like you can’t even count the cases like this one. How many are there. We don’t know and we won’t know for years.

24:22.57
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah in in it. No no, you go ahead.

24:26.85
Geoff Openshaw
Is it ist it true. Ah sorry, go ahead Jim well I was just going to pivot I was going to say isn’t it also true that aren’t there some states where it’s kind of the opposite. There’s some that allow for the privilege aren’t there some where if a religious leader actually does report. There could be.

24:29.74
Liz Busby
Um, yeah.

24:41.66
Jennifer Roach
So it is yes sort of I’m not aware of any state that outright says you will be prosecuted if you report reporting is illegal I don’t think anybody says that however.

24:44.50
Geoff Openshaw
Penalties against the church like isn’t Oregon so wasn’t there a case, an organ about that or something like that sort of okay.

25:00.39
Jennifer Roach
There are some places where the law at least used to be um, your breaking confidentiality by doing this and can be held responsible for that the bishop in Oregon um, a man I don’t actually remember if he confesses or if he’s caught. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at this case. But he he it’s abusing somebody bishop goes to the police. The man’s wife is now taking the church to court because he disclosed it was not illegal for him in Oregon to disclose like Oregon as a state isn’t coming after him and saying hey bishop we’re putting you in jail.

25:24.30
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

25:37.30
Jennifer Roach
But she is taking him to civil court for it which she’s allowed to do that that case has not that case was not thrown out.

25:42.65
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, that’s so interesting. So even if we’re talking about things that could make it better. Do we think that like regardless of what the laws are and we’re talking very strictly in a north american an american united states in context right now listeners so apologies I mean I don’t know what the laws are in Canada or in other anglophone countries or.

25:44.75
Liz Busby
Now.

26:01.39
Geoff Openshaw
Who knows where else but um, does it stand to reason that the church would benefit from simply revising some of its standards and just saying you report the abuse like end of discussion called the help line to get tips on how that should be but we don’t leave a window open for you not to like you’re not, You’re gonna be liable. We’re not going to come down on you. But.

26:13.00
Jennifer Roach
A. Um, yes, yes, you should report the abuse. However, we will never know but in a case like this. What would have happened.

26:21.28
Geoff Openshaw
But you report the abuse like that’s the moral thing to do regardless of what the law says.

26:31.41
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

26:34.70
Jennifer Roach
They they report the abuse to cps Cps works with their law enforcement partners. Ah what a black and white car with sirens goes down their dirty their their dusty road to their house. Not one if the dad is home. Not one of those kids and certainly not the mom is talking and. And they’re gonna do what victims do which is oh no, no no, everything’s fine here. These are my children. They’re great right? because that’s that’s a victim Pattern is often what happens police car pulls away what happens next right? So So yeah, we should report.

26:59.85
Geoff Openshaw
Um.

27:00.20
Liz Busby
That’s often what happens? yeah.

27:12.00
Jennifer Roach
And we actually by reporting we will never know but you could have got those kids killed.

27:21.80
Liz Busby
There’s a lot of guessing games. You can play like I was in a I was in a word where I was in a relief society presidency and this kind of thing happened and the bishop reported it because we were in Washington and we were required to report it and then yes.

27:22.17
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, yeah.

27:22.32
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

27:37.40
Liz Busby
They took it all back. Nothing happened with cps and then the mother and daughters were prevented from coming to church anymore. They were totally cut off from us. We couldn’t help them anymore. Um, even though we knew what was happening there was no way we could prove it and and now there was no way we could help them and comfort them like.

27:43.70
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah.

27:49.93
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, it it reporting still should yeah reporting still should happen. It’s still the moral thing. However, most people who are screaming that on Twitter.

27:56.61
Liz Busby
There was nothing. We could do yeah I should but.

28:03.65
Jennifer Roach
Have literally no idea what happens when that cop car shows up or when he leaves.

28:10.53
Liz Busby
Yeah, it is not an easy situation and there’s no silver bullet that we all want to have unfortunately.

28:13.17
Geoff Openshaw
No, no, there’s there’s nothing we can do to stop it whole Gen go ahead.

28:13.35
Jennifer Roach
yeah yeah yeah there there’s a um, there’s a petition that’s going around trying to get pressure the church into using background checks law was just passed in California.

28:27.40
Geoff Openshaw
Which they do it which they do in California I think Pennsylvania as well, right? yeah.

28:31.19
Liz Busby
Um, yeah, ah.

28:33.90
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah I think then why I got past this year or in effect this year I came in California can’t remember um, okay thank you? um, background checks I actually think that we should do them. You will catch the very very very rare abuser. However.

28:37.45
Geoff Openshaw
California just took effect this year yeah no and

28:51.10
Jennifer Roach
Most people think a background check is is this like secret oracle that somehow divines what’s going on in a person’s heart as if they have the the potential to be an abuser the man in this case, the father he would have passed a background check until the moment he died.

29:06.95
Geoff Openshaw
He had He was a border he he was a border Patrol agent. They have background checks. They have clearances. They have all that. Yeah.

29:08.97
Jennifer Roach
If you would have back? Absolutely so he he has a federal one for years. He loses his he loses his border Patrol job. Um, first they demote him and then they and then they fire him so at the very end he didn’t have that but he still could have completely passed a background check and then guess what.

29:16.74
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

29:28.90
Jennifer Roach
You know whoever is running some youth Organization. He wants to go work at they say to him we take child abuse very seriously here you have to pass a background check What does he do? He just sits back and smile of course knowing that he will pass it. And now they have introduced him to the children that they serve and he’s one of the worst child predators that have ever existed and.

29:53.30
Geoff Openshaw
So what do you? What do you do that? like what do you to make a background check more worthwhile then like what’s what’s lacking in that process.

29:58.50
Jennifer Roach
Well here I mean here’s the problem is abuse is secretive and shameful. Um, do you know Jeff the average age of None report of childhood or teenage sexual abuse. Do you do you want? Do you want to make a guess.

30:11.48
Geoff Openshaw
I’m terrified to know what it is so no I don’t but tell me on 8

30:16.37
Jennifer Roach
Um, how about it how about a guess that’s an average like what do you think? the average is for the None time they report.

30:22.54
Geoff Openshaw
As far as the age of the person who’s being abused. Yeah, the victim. Oh when do they come forward a gosh I would imagine some of them don’t come forward until they’re like 20 in their twenty s I would maybe I’m saying I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s many victims who don’t come forward for.

30:25.35
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, the the victim themselves when do they come forward the very None time. In their twenty s.

30:42.47
Jennifer Roach
The the people who who really own this space are called child usa and they’re a nonprofit they work in the spaces about statute of limitation reform around abuse issues. Their statistic from 2017 so pre me too. Hopefully this has gone down a little bit.

30:42.50
Geoff Openshaw
Very long time for any number of reasons. Perhaps even later.

31:01.99
Jennifer Roach
Is that the average age of None reporting is 51 so if if you got abused at age 10 and you don’t report it till 51 in Most States number 1 you’re out of luck that no charges are going to be filed this a sta that statute of.

31:04.35
Geoff Openshaw
Excuse.

31:19.99
Jennifer Roach
There are very few statutal limitations that are going to give you 40 years to report some states are more generous than others Utah’ ‘ is actually not that bad. Um it. So it’s never going to go on a criminal record. it’s it’s not it’s not hearsay right? A background.

31:21.88
Geoff Openshaw
M.

31:36.74
Jennifer Roach
Report is what has this person been convicted of so it’s not so even this guy he’s sitting in jail. He decides to hang himself while he’s hanging there. He has a clean background report because he isn’t convicted of anything yet. So how do you change that? well None you get people to report earlier. How do you do that? Um, if if I can like hammer any point in this conversation. This is the point I’ve been trying to hammer which is by and large adults do not understand how children and teenagers report abuse. We are missing it. Um, no child and no cheat teenager calls up their bishop and says hey I need to set an appointment with you and then like walks in the door and sits on the couch and says well gosh on November Twenty Seventh at three zero eight p m here’s what my dad did. They children and and teenagers do not think that way. That’s how adults think the vast majority of reporting by children and teenagers is accidental. They say something that’s weird, right? The classic example is the girl who says to her school teacher. She’s like an 11 year old girl and she says something to her school teacher about how her dad knows all about her underwear. So it’s she just like you’re None that’s weird, right? and picks it up and and follows the trail. Takes that girl like None more conversations before she confesses anything when I when I first told my abuse I think it’s a None conversations before I was willing to spit it out and I’m mouthy like I have no end of words right? Um, kids and teenagers. Drop these things they don’t even know they’re dropping and I understand why a middle aged bishop is horrified to pick up that sentence and say your dad knows what about your underwear right? because he doesn’t want to touch that with a ten foot pull however he has just missed an abuse disclosure.

33:36.59
Geoff Openshaw
Now.

33:41.78
Jennifer Roach
The other way quite a bit less common but the other way that kids or teenagers disclose is a deliberate red trail. They will tell you 1 weird little comment in passing and they might even tell you they’re joking right? that the wise adult remembers that.

33:57.30
Liz Busby
Um.

34:01.55
Jennifer Roach
Maybe brings it back Up. Maybe asks about it later you might terrify that kid you might have to work on the relationship and bring like whatever. Um, but if you if you’re with a kid and they give you a breadcrumb and you pass right by it and didn’t even notice it which is what most adults do. You have just missed a chance for disclosure So in this giant configuration of of helpful tools for kids that were missing the biggest one that not just us in the church but all of us in Western Society Miss is kid kids and teenagers are trying and they’re not getting heard.

34:37.66
Liz Busby
That’s exactly what happened in the ward that I was in it was an accidental comment The teenage girl made at young women’s and it was followed up on and that’s it’s not usually what you think.

34:47.37
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, getting.

34:50.30
Geoff Openshaw
I’m glad I’m glad you were able to pick up on that and I think about this within the context of the protecting children and youth training we have to do only every three years which is like it’s like a 20 minute video and it doesn’t go into those kinds of details.

34:55.59
Jennifer Roach
Um, ah right.

35:02.38
Geoff Openshaw
And I get it like it’s hard. The church is a church of volunteers. We’re not a church of trained licensed professionals in any of these things you know bishops are whatever they are and during their day job and they’re also bishops. Um, it does make me think it wouldn’t hurt us to maybe bolster up that training a little bit like everything we’re talking about I think is perfectly within reason why not have segments about.

35:02.92
Jennifer Roach
Um, and you are.

35:17.13
Jennifer Roach
Is it.

35:21.50
Geoff Openshaw
How you can actually look for cues from from youth like what could define abuse like why not have that we don’t We just say be there for them. It’s kind of it’s a lot of broad ah generalities.

35:23.52
Jennifer Roach
To to to be fair right? To be fair I haven’t done it for about 5 years but five years ago I did a review of the the major curriculums that that denominations use to train volunteers around this.

35:39.44
Geoff Openshaw
Okay, interesting.

35:41.42
Jennifer Roach
And not 1 of them mentions that that that adults don’t know how to listen to kids on that. That’s just a piece of information that is not very well known. But but it is also backed by research.

35:47.92
Geoff Openshaw
Well, you’ll be happy to know you’ll be happy to know that deto Christ Offerson’s a regular listener of this show and he has heard us now I don’t know that at all.

35:54.96
Jennifer Roach
Very good.

35:56.21
Liz Busby
Well I mean it is interesting that there’s a whole section in the Leah Hona this month that is about abuse and there is an article in there that is for parents saying here’s how you can notice these things and here’s how you can protect your kids and teach them. What’s you know? So I think.

36:01.59
Geoff Openshaw
Um, yeah.

36:01.74
Jennifer Roach
Absolutely. You hit.

36:13.47
Liz Busby
We are trying to do it. We could do more.

36:13.53
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, it interestingly enough in mental Health psychology there used to be this really big push toward. Can we identify abusers and the only thing they’ve ever confidently. Been able to say is most abusers are male and that’s not helpful because most males are not abusers.

36:30.11
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

36:33.33
Jennifer Roach
Um, the research has kind of really shifted towards identifying kids who are at risk instead of adults who are at risk and it’s all the same risk factors that they are at risk for for everything else. So watching out for those kids in the ward who are at risk in all of the normal ways. That’s who you’re eyes and to be on. That’s who you need to be maybe listening a tiny bit extra carefully for the weird comment.

36:56.29
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah I want it Liz you just kind of hinted at it I want to think about the church’s response a little bit I have to imagine it’s coincidence that the Leah Hona this month delves into this at the same time. It’s planet well in advance. Yeah.

36:56.67
Liz Busby
No.

37:07.79
Liz Busby
I Mean yeah, it’s usually planned out months in advance or here’s even.

37:15.80
Geoff Openshaw
I mean at the same time I like to I like to assume a p gave the church a heads up about this kind of thing that would be pretty standard practice for journalists in this. Ah, that’s what I mean though, not a crazy amount. So not enough to to guide the Leah Hona which is completely expected.

37:19.17
Jennifer Roach
Probably probably not more than a week or two weeks before the article came out nope correct.

37:31.51
Geoff Openshaw
But 1 thing that I did find interesting is I would love to talk about the church’s statement in response to this and I will strive to do so with an open mind. But as someone who works in pra this whole thing drives me up a wall but that’s but I will be reasonable and measured and just a moderator here and let everyone else hash it out. Um, no, they don’t though though.

37:43.90
Jennifer Roach
You.

37:45.88
Liz Busby
They just need to hire you Jeff but.

37:51.42
Geoff Openshaw
We can have a whole discussion about how church pr is like noticeably worse than it used to be when Michael Otterson headed church pr and I don’t know if that’s because under president Monson if like they let the pr people do their thing and maybe they control it more and I have no idea but I do feel like church pr is not what it could be or what it used to be.

37:53.26
Jennifer Roach
Um, a.

38:09.40
Jennifer Roach
my my first my first read of that statement I actually thought like yeah like I like I can see where they’re coming from I think this is okay at None read my biggest 2 problems with it are there is some wiggle room in that statement that could justify the people who are saying.

38:09.95
Geoff Openshaw
But anyway, yeah.

38:26.96
Jennifer Roach
Oh the the ap is attacking us us poor victimized church members right? that they they throw a tiny bit of shade of the reporter and I don’t and I don’t love that because that’s not what has happening here and I I wish that it had been more pastoral towards the family and um, a None of the.

38:30.60
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, no.

38:36.10
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

38:46.57
Jennifer Roach
Adult women who sit in our churches are abuse victims of some kind or another right? How triggered do you think? ah every ward in our country was yesterday the see us city Sunday yesterday was Sunday I mean I’ve been buried in this topic.

38:56.73
Geoff Openshaw
Yes, chair was Sunday it and and shockingly and shockingly in our Testimony meeting. There was not an allusion to anything in this sphere like at all I wondered if it would come up but nope I think it’s because we got the temple dedication coming up here in Dc next week. So it was a lot of temple testimonies. But um.

38:57.10
Liz Busby
Um, yes.

39:04.35
Jennifer Roach
Um, it sure. Yeah.

39:13.50
Liz Busby
Smooth.

39:15.77
Geoff Openshaw
The the statement’s interesting because yeah, at None glance, two I was like okay you know the church is kind of saying like hey this this isn’t the whole story. But as I read between some of the lines. My biggest frustration with it was it. It makes a lot of Assertions like Ap is wrong and doing this wrong. This is this is kind of classic pr in some ways.

39:19.45
Jennifer Roach
Yeah.

39:20.28
Liz Busby
Foilet plate.

39:30.98
Geoff Openshaw
But it goes to 0 lengths to explain what exactly they did wrong like what is the quote oversimplified and incomplete and a serious misrepresentation of the church like yeah, yeah, so it’s like so what it’s like what.

39:39.22
Jennifer Roach
I Know what those things are but I’ve read every court document. You are going to know that if you read if you read the statement.

39:48.37
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, like so what is that church tell me tell me what this oversimplification this misrepresentation is this oversimplification is because I want to know what that is otherwise it does come off more defensive than perhaps it even needs to but I love this one piece they had ah by common consent I think this is Michael Austin was it Michael Austin I think it was Michael Austin

39:57.44
Jennifer Roach
E.

39:57.59
Liz Busby
Um, yeah, um.

40:04.67
Liz Busby
Um, yes, a deal was it was.

40:08.37
Geoff Openshaw
He essentially wrote a re-edited version of it which was more pastoral as as Jennifer was kind of saying which I like and I think there’s room for that. Ah, you know Michael Austin’s not the person working for the church and I have to imagine the church’s statement went through some ah went through a few hands in the upper echelons of leadership.

40:10.37
Jennifer Roach
E.

40:25.23
Geoff Openshaw
It did strike me as almost Knee-jerkish though. But that’s what I wonder even if they had a couple weeks from a P I thought they could have taken time to craft something a little more thoughtful but I don’t know. Okay.

40:30.45
Jennifer Roach
Do you know I I’ve actually kind of come to a None position on that and to say every buddy is triggered by this story right? I don’t care if you’re a high leader in our church. All the way down to to to whatever the smallest child who has heard of this story. No one heard this story and did not have an emotional reaction so was that was that statement a little bit emotional reaction. Maybe I’m not going to judge of them for that I had an emotional reaction. So did you? So did you sort of.

40:54.94
Geoff Openshaw
So.

41:04.83
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and that’s why I wonder it seems emotional like did they not get a heads up from a because in my in my mind this is just my mind if they knew the story was coming out and given a chance to see it and you have even a week or a week and a half to craft a response.

41:06.56
Jennifer Roach
Every single adult that I know um.

41:19.62
Jennifer Roach
Yeah.

41:21.42
Geoff Openshaw
You can get some of the emotion out of I have you. It’s not perfect, but like even like right now I.

41:22.77
Liz Busby
I Also wonder if they if they include more details does it look even more defensive and so they’re just like let’s just do the bare minimum because they expect a response from us and just like wait until everybody’s emotions blow over.

41:27.72
Jennifer Roach
You see.

41:34.54
Geoff Openshaw
Maybe to to to me I do feel like this is a case where try to do just that little bit and wait for it to blow over to me just makes us look like we’re being like shadier about it. That’s just for in terms of perceptions I mean like I love the but Michael Austin’s ideas basically saying like look we.

41:35.52
Jennifer Roach
Thank you? yeah.

41:46.88
Liz Busby
Um, yeah.

41:53.84
Jennifer Roach
Um, yeah.

41:54.54
Geoff Openshaw
System failed here like this does not represent the church writ large but the system failed here. We’re going to examine. What’s going on here and see what can be done better I don’t think saying something like that demonstrates any kind of weakness. It demonstrates some humility while still saying we have processes. We have a robust system in place and we do want to make it better and this terrible story reminds us that we can do more.

42:02.98
Jennifer Roach
I agree.

42:12.25
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, the the unfortunate part of that. Not being said is there are people who who really are making the leap from the bishops didn’t report they should have therefore the church is bad instead of saying the bishops didn’t report. They should have.

42:13.74
Liz Busby
Yeah.

42:14.24
Geoff Openshaw
Like what’s for all saying that? yeah.

42:26.10
Geoff Openshaw
Um, yeah, yeah.

42:31.27
Jennifer Roach
I wonder what happened I I wonder I wonder what we could fix I wonder what? what? really actually was going on here. Nobody nobody on Twitter knows that answer even if they act like they do.

42:40.10
Geoff Openshaw
No, and that’s a good way to put it because you have what the Ap said and the church is basically pushing back and essentially just saying like no, we’ve got this all right? like we’re fine. There has to be that middle ground of realizing like yeah instead. Our.

42:49.10
Jennifer Roach
A.

42:54.50
Geoff Openshaw
Wonderful church which has the fullness of the gospel is still run by people and bureaucracy and things can go wrong at times and we.

42:58.50
Jennifer Roach
my my favorite my favorite quote right? now is it’s very old. It says newspapers write the None draft of history meaning they’re going to do their best and I absolutely believe this guy did his best.

43:13.90
Geoff Openshaw
Yeah.

43:15.75
Jennifer Roach
Um, and he there is no way he can get every single thing right? Um I’ve known one reporter in my life that I can honestly say every single time he has written about me. He has gotten it right? and and that is not that is not universally true. How reporters write right? like. So so so this.

43:30.17
Geoff Openshaw
Um, yeah.

43:35.66
Jennifer Roach
Fantastic reporter gave us a None draft and now it is our job concerned adult members of the church to figure out. Okay, where’s that what do we add need to add nuance where do we need to add context where do we need to seek understanding where do we need to seek to do better.

43:51.50
Geoff Openshaw
Now Amen to that. Um, well before we move on from this anybody else have anything we want to say about this difficult chapter.

43:57.60
Jennifer Roach
The the last thing that I want to say is you know my heart really goes out to the abuse victim who is in our church maybe not healed from her own. Ah. Abuse and super super triggered about this because there’s a lot of overlap between even though the church wasn’t doing the abuse here right? like it was this dad and yet somehow there’s this wrong, but but.

44:16.74
Liz Busby
Um, remove.

44:30.35
Jennifer Roach
Popular way of looking at it that says oh the church just didn’t care and and let this happen that impacts people’s relationship to god it impacts their understanding of their own spirituality who they are in relationship to some kind of divine presence. Those are the people that I care about and in the last Whatever, not even a week since the story has come out like to me those are the people who need the attention right now we don’t know the victim I have no access to her you have no access to her right there’s nothing we can do for her. However, there are some very triggered and terrified and sad and upset women and men.

44:53.50
Liz Busby
The.

45:08.56
Jennifer Roach
In our own wards who who who need a little soothing and who need a little help and who need a little just pastoral care around this issue. Um, and I don’t want them to get missed.

45:21.40
Liz Busby
Yeah, reach out to those who you know and tell them you’re there.

45:24.22
Jennifer Roach
Yeah.

45:25.90
Geoff Openshaw
Know well we’re still gonna talk about some other news of the week but we thought this merited some extra time. Jennifer’s not going to stick around for all of it. So no, it’s so you know like you said you’re tired. You need a break and that’s fair. But Jennifer thanks for. But.

45:34.76
Jennifer Roach
Sorry.

45:37.00
Liz Busby
You need a break.

45:39.69
Jennifer Roach
Yeah, yeah, you guys are my last podcast that I have done so there you go. Ah.

45:45.51
Geoff Openshaw
And the last you’ll be None and the None show be last which literally means Kurt you heard that the first she’ll be of I’m just kidding. Um it oh no I got it. So anyways Jen thanks a lot for being here I appreciate it. Alright.

45:47.35
Liz Busby
Whoo.

45:48.10
Jennifer Roach
Um I don’t actually know how it I don’t actually know how to log out of here. Okay, yep, thanks back.

 

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