I want to spend a little time sharing my story. I do not want to give too many details but give readers a pretty good idea of what happened to me. I grew up in Arvada Colorado. In about 1987, there was an older man that moved in the ward, probably better not to share his name. He was very ingratiating, passed himself off as very spiritual, and an ultra devout latter day saint. In fact, he was a temple worker in the Denver temple. He also passed himself off as a psychiatrist, counselor, doctor, and expert at everything. He really was blowing smoke; he had no credentials and was in fact a big zero.
When I was about 17 I was having some test taking problems at school. I could not concentrate very well when the test was math or science. My mind would go blank. But I was also having other problems in school like not fitting in well. I was a young gay man but didn’t know it.
Well…this man was appointed by the Bishop to be a Sunday school teacher for youth, and he took an immediate perverted liking to me. One time after his class I told him about my problem with test taking. We set up an initial “counseling” session in my parents’ home, in my bedroom. Ugh, my parents were uneasy with him from the get go, but didn’t dream he was really dangerous.
He gave innocuous enough advice on helping me with test taking, like setting time to study, read for fun, stay in good shape, etc. But he soon appointed himself to be my bishop and everything profession just mentioned.
His inappropriate questions started like this “most boys discover masturbation about age 12 to 13, where do you fit in on that scale”? Well, I answered not until about age 16, but I honestly did not question the legitimacy of him asking the question. I already had a few little masturbation talks with my real bishop.
He didn’t stop there…but asked other probing questions. How often did I masturbate? How long did it take me to ejaculate? What were my fantasies masturbating? Even how did I masturbate? [Did I get off but rubbing my penis on my pillow or mattress, use my hand, do it in the shower.]
It was at one point he made the suggestion that he was going to give me a “physical” examination. There was plenty of normalizing of sexual talk that led up to the multiple sexual assaults. In the guise of a “physical” examination, he fondled me penis and testicles on repeated occasion.
I was so young and vulnerable, that I really thought he was sent from God. Complicating the situation too is that he was interested in my spirituality, or relationship with my heavenly father as well.
And it gets worse…this man had these inappropriate private relationships with several boys in the ward (and yes, with sexual touching). I know that because of things he said in my time with him.
The ward I grew up in was mixed about him. Some people thought he was wonderful, but others discerned that something really was not right about him. It took me several years to get to come to terms with these violating experiences and get on with my life.
Years later I unfolded this story to several priesthood leaders, and do you know what they did to him…absolutely nothing. They just kind of told me that stipulations have been made; they are keeping an eye on him. They blithe-fully didn’t really care that he still had a temple recommend.
I share my story mainly to convey that how he was ever even given opportunity to violate me and many others is 100% the fucking fault of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is time that the church abandon these worthiness interviews for all ages, and realize that only people trained in mental health should seek to counsel people about sexuality. It’s not o.k. for unqualified people to presume to help people in personal matters.