An Oregon woman is suing the Mormon Church for nearly $10 million… because Church officials did the right thing.
A couple of years ago, Timothy Samuel Johnson admitted to his wife, Kristine Johnson, that he had molested an underage girl. Instead of alerting the cops, the couple went to their local Mormon temple in order to confess his sin to Church leaders — similar to confession in the Catholic Church.
Unlike the Catholic Church, however, when the LDS leaders found out what he had done, they told the cops instead of maintaining irrational confidentiality… and those cops quickly arrested Johnson. He has since been sentenced to 15 years in jail after pleading guilty to “four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.”
Kristine Johnson is now suing a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — the man who apparently trained clergy members so badly that they didn’t keep the confession of a crime a secret — for ruining her husband’s life. (Their four kids are also named as plaintiffs.)
The man’s confession was meant to be confidential, said the family’s attorney Bill Brandt. He said local clergy’s actions “totally violated church policy.”
“It’s been devasting on the family,” Brandt said. “They lost a husband and a father.”
Church leaders’ actions deprived Johnson’s wife and children of his companionship, society, love and income, according to the lawsuit.
“(Clergy) knew or should have known that violating the doctrine of confidentiality under the circumstances alleged in this complaint would most certainly injure (his wife and children) financially,” Brandt said.
Brandt also said that other church members are “appalled” by how LDS leaders chose to turn in a rapist rather than help cover up his crimes… which may be the first time I’ve ever heard of Mormons being described as less ethical than their leaders.
The lawsuit asks for $5.5 million for the wife, $1 million per child, and $40,000 in legal fees to make up for the family’s lost income now that Daddy Rapist is behind bars.
For what it’s worth, Oregon is one of only 28 states where church leaders are considered mandatory reporters. Like public school teachers, they’re required to tell (secular) authorities about possible abuse if they learn about it. Church leaders, especially from the Catholic Church, have fought against such laws, saying that confessions are a sacrament and anything less than complete confidentiality would be an obstacle to the practice of their faith.
Which is a fancy way of saying the Catholic Church really wants to make sure it can protect child abusers.
In this case, the Mormon leaders did exactly the right thing. They heard an admission of abuse. They reported it. The abuser has been locked away. The world is a slightly better place. And now they’re being punished because a criminal’s family is very upset that he didn’t get away with his sexual abuse.
To hell with them. May the Mormon Church get a well-deserved victory in court.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Ryan for the link)