A Utah state representative told a Mormon bishop not to report a church member’s sexual abuse, advice that led to seven years of rape and abuse committed by the church member against his own daughters, according to new lawsuit documents.
State Rep. Merrill Nelson (R-UT), a prominent lawyer for the Mormon church, allegedly answered the first call from a help line when Bishop John Herrod told him that Arizona church member Paul Adams had admitted to sexually abusing two of his daughters. For more than two years, Nelson communicated with Herrod and another bishop who knew about the abuse allegations, according to call records, the Associated Press reported.
Nelson told Herrod “that he could be sued if he reported, and the instruction by counsel not to report Paul [Adams] to the authorities was the law in Arizona and had nothing to do with Church doctrine,” according to the plaintiff’s filings. However, as the AP reported, Arizona law allows blanket immunity for those who report child sexual abuse or neglect.
The sex abuser’s two daughters and one of his sons are trying to gain access to records from the Mormon church, but the church has refused them based on confidentiality. After a county judge ruled in the victims’ favor to see the records, the Mormon church took the case to the Court of Appeals.
According to the new records, Nelson talked with Herrod and one other Mormon bishop from November 2011 to February 2014 after Adams had been excommunicated from the church. Roger Van Komen, manager of the church’s southeast region family services department, said in a deposition that the lawmaker discussed Adams’ abuse with Herrod in those communications. (Read more from “State Lawmaker Advised Mormon Bishop Against Reporting Church Member Who Sexually Abused Daughters, Lawsuit Filings Say” HERE)
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