Sex Abuse Lawsuit Blames
LDS Church, Bishop
BY STEPHEN HUNT
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
3/26/98, Page B2
filed last week in Oregon claims that an 11-year-old boy was sexually molested
by a Mormon Sunday School teacher because the LDS Church has a policy of
refusing to tell authorities of child sex abuse by church members.
said church spokesman Don LeFevre on Wednesday.
contrary, the church has a clear and long-standing policy regarding assistance
to child abuse victims . . . including that church leaders should obey the
law regarding abuse and cooperate with law enforcement."
The lawsuit claims church leaders
and an Oregon bishop, in particular, knew 87-year-old Sunday School teacher
Franklin Richard Curtis had sexually abused children, but never told police
or church members.
And Bishop Gregory Lee Foster remained silent about Curtis' misdeeds when
the 11-year-old boy's mother informed the bishop of her plans to take in
and care for the elderly man, the suit claims.
In about 1990, Curtis was living in a Portland re-tirement home when he
told the boy's family he would like to live out his remaining years in a
family environment, according to the lawsuit.
After consulting with the bishop,
the family invited Curtis to live with them. Curtis moved in and stayed
for about a year.
For about six months of his stay,
on almost a daily basis, Curtis sexually abused the victim, the suit claims. In 1993, the boy's family moved to Washington state and the victim
disclosed he had been molested.
The boy's mother called police, and Curtis was arrested, charged and eventually
pleaded no contest to a sexual abuse charge. Because of his age, he received
probation. He died in a nursing home in1995.
Meanwhile, the victim's mother had contacted Foster to warn him about Curtis.
But [Bishop] Foster revealed he had
been aware - from Curtis himself, and from other church leaders - that Curtis
had sexually molested other children, the lawsuit alleges.
Indeed, years before the Oregon incident,
Curtis was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in Pennsylvania for sexually
abusing children - information which was communicated
to Oregon church leaders, the suit alleges. He was later re-baptized and had similar troubles in another Portland church
ward, where he allegedly molested five
children who were members.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages from the Mormon Church and
LeFevre said the church "categorically denies any liability"
to the Oregon plaintiffs.
"The church deplores child abuse in all its forms," he added.
"It was not involved in any way in the abuse, which occurred in the
plaintiff's own home by a man the family invited to live with them."