I want to start by saying I am an active member of the church. I debated about sharing this, because all of the people involved with one exception are good people who just made understandable mistakes. The current status quo and puts people in a position where bad things can happen. That is why I support this petition.
My story begins in 19 78–79. At the time I was 13. A young adult male moved into the ward. He immediately volunteered to work in the Young Men’s program. Everyone, youth and adults, loved him. He spent his spare time helping youth with scouts, and doing lots of fun activities. Almost seemed like a big brother and not another grown up leader. He was so loved that I remember an entire testimony meeting where testimonies were shared…all about what a great guy he was.
The hidden truth was, this man was secretly molesting many of the young men in the ward. Indeed, experiences with him became my first introduction to the world of human intimacy. However I did not recognize it as abuse. He molested me on camp outs, usually I would wake up with his hands on my genitals. I had no idea what was going on at the time and rationalized this as something akin to sleep walking…in fact even though I remember all of this very well it was not until I was in my mid forties when a friend and I admitted to ourselves that we got molested.
At one point, the Stake President’s son caused some turmoil, saying he had been molested. Immediately all of the young men were summoned for interviews. We were all asked if anything had happened to us. I told the bishop that it must be a mistake…I said the abuser rolled around a lot in his sleep and ended up in awkward positions…All of the other young men also defended him. We simply were in denial. In the end…the Stake presidents son was accused of fabricating a story…the abuser stayed in his position and continued to be highly regarded by almost everyone at church.
A few years later concerns were expressed that the young men had an epidemic of masturbation going on. Again we were all summoned to the bishop’s office. This time we were questioned about masturbation. I WAS masturbating, but I did not want to discuss it. I considered it a serious sin, almost like murder. I told the bishop “no I don’t masturbate”, however he didn’t believe me…And kept me in his office grilling me for about 15 minutes… “are you sure you aren’t masturbating?”
Of this group of young men, I am the only one I know who remains active. I love this church, and the bishop is someone I highly respect.
However my friends have all left the church. There is a trail of drug addiction and other problems in this group. The Stake Presidents son who no date be believed has problems with drugs. One friend was caught molesting a little girl.
For myself things started to change for the better when someone FINALLY told me masturbation was not a serious sin. This happened on my mission. After that it took years/decades of struggling to deal with confusion over sexual issues.
As much as I love the church, I never once received helpful council about sex from a bishop…instruction sheets with advice such as wearing multiple layers of clothing when I slept in order to discourage masturbation, yes, but these instructions did not help…I had to walk this road on my own. When I realized I was going to have to solve it without ecclesiastical help…that was the beginning of real progress.
I am keeping my personal information private, however the name of the abuser was (withheld). He was eventually busted for pedophilia and child rape in Oregon and Greece. Later after being released from prison he was busted again in Bountiful. He was never brought to justice for his actions in our ward. You can look him on the Boy Scouts “Black list” that was leaked a few years back. If you know him, be careful. He an extremely effective con artist.
One leader from that ward apologized for this oversight years afterwards.
I humbly request that the church take this petition to heart. Please don’t assume there is nothing going on here, or that this is not a serious problem. I share this with sincere love and best wishes for the future of the church.