I used to live with legal guardian parents Michael and Judy and their two kids, and I only stayed with them because they lived in the area where the school I needed to go. My parents were not well off, they couldn’t move a few hours down, so the Mormon community was more than happy to help me to accomplish my education in certain areas I needed. I was directed to that certain family and then two years living with them was living hell and it took me more than decade to finally understand why. My parents always dislike the legal guardian family and father often talked negative about Michael. I thought it was Mormon attitude thing.
I don’t want to go on explain my two years gaslighting, manipulation, violating my privacy, and passive aggressive sexual behaviors from Michael. I want to get to the point where bishop played in the role of my miserable teenager life. Both legal guardian parents decided to divorce at end of my junior year; so it meant I have to find new family or move back in my parents. So I picked the latter, I had young siblings and I missed them. So I moved back in and unfortunately, Michael’s family live in same area where my parents live, so I couldn’t get away from him. We went to same church together for my last year in high school, and it was hard.
Fast forwarding to winter, definitely after Christmas, Michael asked me that he needed to see me somewhere as soon as possible, and I was terrified because… with this man, it could be anything. The important note in this is, I just turned 18 almost two months before. He approached me and told me he found his soulmate and he wants to marry her. I told Michael I am happy for him but I don’t know what am I should to do about it…? Then he said, “Yeah, I had few bishop meetings, he thinks it’s really important for me to ask for your forgiveness when you are at legal age, and tell you that I regret my action.” I answered, “Huh…. Okay, what did you do…?” As far as I know, there was never touching, even not any type of physical violation.
He told bishop, which had known me since little girl, that he was curious what I looked like naked, so Michael decided to secretly tape me when I was 15, and 16. I don’t need go into more details, but it took me more than decade to realize that explained all of his strange behaviors. So, I stammered and was shocked, then he continued on that he wanted to marry his soulmate but he couldn’t do it without temple recommendation. Michael needs my forgiveness so he could have clean slate. Suddenly, the focus went from sexual violation to his second chance at marrying and it will be all my fault if I won’t forgive him. I felt heavy burden and felt it was all my fault so I said yes I forgive you like a good Mormon girl.
I never did forgive him, I said that to get him off and I walked away, didn’t look back for more than decade. After reading few articles regards Sam Young, then it hit me. My bishop knew Michael was child sexual predator, and he advised him wait till I turned to legal of age, basically wait till I am 18 so my parents couldn’t do anything about it given their history of dislike toward Michael and a few accusations in past. Bishop did call me for an interview and then he proceed to “Have you talked with Michael yet? Oh ok, you forgiae him? It is very important,” something like that. I just remembered how cold and betrayed I felt from him.
The hardest thing is I couldn’t share the story with anyone because they would frame it as my reason for leaving church. No one in family will totally get it.