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The Mormon Church set up a help line for children who were the victims of abuse Calls that would be critcally important had to be taken seriously and handled by trained legal advisers that could work around all sorts of red tape

The Associated Press explored how a crisis line set up by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did little to stop the abuse

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An AP investigation exposed the Mormon church’s role in encouraging the quiet surrounding sexual assault.

A parent confessed to a bishop that he had molested his daughter when she was five.

The church’s “help line” instructed the bishop to keep the report a secret when they spoke.

According to an investigation by The Associated Press, a “help line” established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was used to conceal a claim of sex abuse that persisted for at least seven years.

The study described how church attorneys headquartered in a Salt Lake City law firm might receive significant allegations of abuse instead of law enforcement by way of the Mormon Abuse Help Line. It has been questioned what information communicated with a member of the clergy is safeguarded as the case develops this month.

When he discovered that a 5-year-old girl had been sexually raped by her father, Paul Douglas Adams, one Arizona-based bishop named John Herrod called the hotline. According to The AP, lawyers would advise the bishop that he was legally compelled to conceal the abuse because he knew about the incidents through a “spiritual confession.”

Herrod stated this in a recorded conversation with law enforcement that The AP has reviewed: “They said, ‘You definitely can do nothing,'”

Even though the state’s sex abuse reporting law mandates that the clergy report such incidents to authorities, church officials asserted that Arizona’s clergy-penitent privilege required the bishops to keep the abuse a secret.

If the clergy was informed of the abuse at confession, then there is an exemption to the rule. According to church theology, they may decide to “withhold” information if they believe it to be “reasonable and essential,” The AP reported.

For at least seven more years, the daughter, who is only referred to as MJ in The AP, was mistreated. Adams continued to torture his second daughter when she was a baby. He regularly uploaded videos of the abuse online as well.

In order to describe how the covert system operated, the AP article relied on over 12,000 pages of sealed data from a separate child sex abuse lawsuit in West Virginia against the Mormon church.

To assess whether a report was serious enough to be sent to the Salt Lake City legal firm Kirton McConkie, employees had to go through a list of questions.

Employees were instructed to advise bishops to persuade the abuser, the victim, or any witnesses to come forward. However, another said to “Never suggest reporting abuse to a priestly authority. Only legal counsel should provide this kind of advice “According to the AP, which used a sample of the protocol guidelines,

One director who works in the church’s Department of Family Services informed the publication that records and notes of the calls were also wiped at the end of the day.

Three of Adams’ kids sued two Arizona bishops and other church officials in Salt Lake City for negligence in failing to disclose the abuse.

According to The AP, the lawsuit brought forth by the Adams’ children alleged that the Mormon Church implemented the Helpline “not for the protection and spiritual counseling of sexual abuse victims…but for (church) attorneys to snuff out complaints and protect the Mormon Church from potentially expensive lawsuits.”

After originally refusing to provide records for Adams and using the clergy-penitent privilege to avoid answering questions during pre-trial testimony, an Arizona court decided on August 8 that the church must assist with the lawsuit.

By publishing images of the abuse online and by admitting to his acts to Homeland Security officers in 2017, Judge Laura Cardinal determined that Adams had forfeited the right to keep his confessions private. After the New Zealand authorities discovered one of the recordings online, Adams was detained. While he was in detention, the father committed suicide.

The AP was informed by attorneys for the bishops and church that their actions were in accordance with both the law and “religious beliefs.”

The aim of the Mormon church’s support line, according to the Mormon church, was “seriously mischaracterized” in the AP piece.

“The support line plays a crucial role in making sure that all reporting regulations are adhered to. It offers a venue for voluntary local leaders to get advice from specialists on who should report and if local leaders themselves should be involved in that reporting “the church published.

According to The AP, the support line was formed in the middle of the 1990s, when reports of sexual assault cases were on the rise and litigation verdicts frequently paid victims millions of dollars in damages.

Insider’s request for comment from the church has gone unanswered.