When Benjamin Alyk was in his early teens, he came across a website that trafficked in illicit photos of children. People on that website uploaded and traded pictures that were criminal in nature. When the website’s security ramped up, Alyk discovered he could only get access to pictures if he shared some of his own… so he secretly recorded two kids, ages 4 and 6, as they used the bathroom in his home. Later on, he used a remote camera to record kids at his mother’s in-home daycare changing in and out of their swimsuits.
Alyk says he stopped looking at (and trading) child pornography when he was 17. When he was 18, he embarked on a two-year Mormon mission trip in the Dominican Republic and, perhaps full of guilt, confessed everything to the man overseeing the mission.
Alyk was sent back home to Utah, where he confessed once again to a Mormon disciplinary council consisting of local church leaders — likely 15 men that included the Stake President, two counselors, and “12 members of the local High Council.”
Despite all those confessions, nothing happened. He wasn’t punished. Law enforcement didn’t come after him. More importantly, he was free to be around children without any consequences.
It turns out law enforcement had no clue what he had done until he confessed directly to them eight months after that disciplinary council meeting.
That’s a long way of saying several Mormon Church leaders were aware they were harboring a pedophile, but they never told authorities, which left open the possibility that Alyk could have struck again.
The Truth & Transparency Foundation (formerly MormonLeaks) has obtained documents verifying this chain of events, including the search warrant used by police to search Alyk’s computers and other electronic items after he confessed his crimes.
Remember that in Utah, like California, the silence of the Mormon Church may not be a crime. Unlike, say, teachers and social workers, who have legal obligations to report any evidence of abuse, religious leaders are exempt from that rule if the confession occurs in a religious setting. (So if you admit to a crime in the confession booth, a priest doesn’t have to tell anybody. The Catholic Church successfully defeated a CA bill this session that would’ve removed that exemption, citing their own desire to adhere to religious rules.)
Ryan McKnight reports:
Based on the current law in Utah, and what is currently known about this case, the Mormon Church did not violate the law.
The Mormon Church requires that clergy who are made aware of abuse immediately call an internal helpline where they are given legal guidance on what additional steps should be taken. It is unclear if the helpline was used in this case. Requests for comment from the Mormon Church and their outside counsel, Kirton McConkie, have gone unanswered.
He adds that the in-home daycare was shut down in February of 2017, two months after Alyk returned home from his mission.
Last August. Alyk was finally charged with eight second degree felonies, including two for sexual exploitation of a minor. Officers had the chance to try him as an adult (with more severe penalties), but they charged him as a minor instead for reasons that are currently unknown.
Alyk was sentenced to “secure confinement in the Utah Juvenile Justice System until his 21st birthday.”
His 21st birthday arrived three months after that sentencing.
He was released last November. He now lives at home with his parents.