My boys went to our bishop in Henderson, NV in 1999 and told him that their older stepbrother (my husband’s son) was raping them, sexually abusing them and forcing them to perform sex acts on him. They were 9 and 12 years old at the time. The bishop related to my children as if they were confessing transgression. He did not call authorities. I was not informed. And my boys related to these events like something to be ashamed of and like they had no power to stop it because THEY HAD TOLD. My stepson continued to abuse my boys for five more years as a result, until I divorced their father.
It wasn’t until my oldest was married and had two children of his own that he finally told me what had happened. He was suffering from PTSD from the abuse at the time and could no longer deal with it on his own. My younger boy was in and out of jail, abusing drugs, and racking up a record at the time. He changed dramatically when the abuse began. He became withdrawn and deeply depressed. He was not the same child. Both of my children were so ashamed they were afraid to tell me.
In 2009, my oldest son told me about what had happened. I spoke to Dan McConkie, an attorney representing the LDS Church on multiple occasions over the course of a year or more. I requested help for my sons and that bishops stop interviewing minor children without a trained counselor present. Mr. McConkie’s only interest was in whether this bishop had broken the law, which Mr. McConkie reported back to me that he hadn’t. I have also shared all of this with my bishop. While he was sorry, patient in listening, and conciliatory, I have no idea if he has tried to do anything about it. While my oldest boy was going through nursing school, he and his wife and three children lived with me and attended the ward. The bishop was exceptionally kind and supportive of them. My concern is that nothing has been done to keep this kind of thing from happening in the first place. My boys have so much shame that they have refused to seek counseling. I’m deeply concerned that the culture within the Church of keeping silent has robbed them of the opportunity to heal.
Our bishop in Henderson was a lovely man with a good heart. He was simply not trained in recognizing abuse. Because I am not the victim, I cannot sue. My boys are now 29 and 32 years old. They suffered years of abuse, and they’ve suffered many more years, decades in fact, of emotional trauma because a good man, who had no business trying to handle a cry for help, withheld information from me, that as their mother, I should have known so I could have protected my children.