Moral responsibility given short shrift by church leaders
One of the most disturbing revelations in the sordid sexual abuse case involving the family of Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock, whose 49-year-old-wife Susan and 21-year-old daughter Rachel sexually exploited the same boy from the age of 13, is the collusion of the leadership in their church.
LDS Bishop Matthew Meyers (the bishop of Brock‘s ward), Bishop Troy Hansen (bishop of the victim’s ward) and former stake president Mitchell Jones all are exposed as having been made aware of the full extent of the ongoing molestation. Yet over an extended period of time and with growing knowledge of the scope of the acts, the police were never contacted. It was only after he was “tired of waiting,” for action, that the victim’s father and his son went to the Chandler police.
These church leaders were all complicit in the attempted cover-up of serious criminal acts against a child.
Yet the Mormon Church has stood its ground, asserting the bishops acted properly. In a carefully worded statement a church spokeswoman said “Arizona law is clear that no priest can disclose any confession even when it concerns child abuse.”
The daily reports that clergy are required to report abuse under state law, but they have more discretion than other mandatory reporters such as teachers or doctors, according to statute. The Arizona statute on reporting crimes says clergy “may withhold” information, even child abuse, learned during a confession.
It was not a confession when the father and the boy told Hansen about the abuse. The church has stated that it urged the boy to tell police, although there is no evidence to support that claim.
Mitchell Jones knew that the victim’s parents suspected child sexual abuse at least a year before the arrest. He had the option to interview the boy, but chose not to.
Susan Brock is serving a 13-year sentence for child molestation. Her sexual predator daughter is in jail awaiting sentencing although a plea is said to be in the works.
The Pinal County Attorney’s Office, in deciding not to file charges against these men, has abrogated its responsibility to Arizona’s children.
AZ Revised Statutes 13-4062 (3) is a law begging to be revisited.