Judge says Mormon church can't withhold information in abuse case
A judge in Arizona ruled that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can't withhold information in a sex abuse lawsuit under the state's "clergy-penitent privilege."
Driving the news: The man, who died in 2017, posted footage of himself abusing his daughters and bragged about it online, so he effectively waived his own confidentiality, the judge ruled.
- The ruling doesn't decide whether church officials were obligated to report the man despite religious exemptions in the state's abuse-reporting requirement.
Catch up fast: The church has been under scrutiny since an AP exposé this month showed it used its 24-7 hotline to stop bishops from reporting a confessed child rapist to police in Arizona.
- The man's bishop said church officials told him he could "absolutely do nothing" because state law required him to keep the man's confession confidential.
State of play: The church on Wednesday again lashed out at the AP's coverage of the Arizona case, claiming "egregious errors in reporting."
- But the church still does not refute details about how its abuse "helpline" directed bishops to not report child abusers and records of abuse reports were destroyed.
What they're saying: The church's latest statement argues that the man made only a "limited confession" in 2011, so neither the church nor the bishop knew "the full extent of the abuse."
- But the AP reported that in a recorded interview with law enforcement, the bishop said he asked the man's wife whether the abuse was ongoing and asked, "What are we going to do to stop it?"
- Court documents obtained by Axios also show an investigator said the bishop acknowledged the abuse had occurred "numerous times."
The other side: The church and its defenders argue church attorneys use the helpline to instruct bishops to "comply with whatever recording is required by law."
Yes, but: Arizona law allows clergy to keep confessions of child abuse confidential, but does not require it.
- It also immunizes those who report from prosecution and lawsuits.
Of note: Vandalism appeared this week on church buildings in Sandy and Draper, with the messages "Save the kids" and "Predators welcome," FOX13 reported.
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