Daughter of LDS Church president at center of decades-old sex abuse cover-up allegations

At least six people are suing the daughter and son-in-law of Russell M. Nelson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — At least six people are suing the daughter and son-in-law of Russell M. Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Neither Nelson nor the Church is named as defendants in this 79-page lawsuit filed in federal court on Wednesday. The allegations of sexual abuse stem back to the early 1980s, accusing Jon and Jane Doe of holding "touching parties" and sexually abusing kids as young as one year old.

The suit claims after the victims came forward, Elder Neil A. Maxwell, a former member of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who has since passed away, gave them a blessing and told them to "forgive and forget."

The suit claims if church leaders acted in a different manner with police, the abuse might not have happened. But it wasn’t until court records to dismiss, filed Wednesday in federal court, that the defendants were identified as President Nelson’s daughter Brenda Miles and her husband, Richard.

In their dismissal motion, the Miles deny all the allegations. They claim the victims only came forward after meeting with a psychologist alleged to be at the center of a Satanic ritual scare in the 1980s.

A church spokesperson released a statement in response to the suit that said:

“Protecting and nurturing children is important to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we handle issues of this nature with the utmost seriousness. These allegations of interference or cover up are baseless and offensive. Law enforcement investigated this matter in the 1980s and took no action against the Church or its leaders. We will continue to act responsibly and appropriately in addressing these matters.”

A statement from Richard and Brenda Miles in response to allegations in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Utah, where they were anonymously named as “Doe 1 and Doe 2”:

“Allegations from the 1980s that we sexually abused neighborhood children by hosting 'touching' parties and engaging in other bizarre forms of ritualistic abuse are patently false and deeply, utterly offensive. Now that we have been subjected to a lawsuit attempting to dredge up these long-ago debunked accusations, it’s important for us to speak out.
We have never abused these children or anyone else. To do so would be contrary to our beliefs, our principles, our character and the way we have always lived our lives.
Police investigated these allegations against us more than 30 years ago and found no evidence to support them. To protect ourselves from the specter of false allegations, we voluntarily took a polygraph test. The results of the tests, which we took in 1986, support the reality that we did not sexually abuse these children."

The Miles’ attorney, Jim Jardine, released the following statement:

“These accusations from the 1980s arose from children of a single family whose grandmother was at the time a business colleague and friend of the very controversial therapist, Barbara Snow. Since the 1980s, Snow has been investigated for employing techniques that “plant” false memories of child abuse. Her methods for interviewing patients—especially children—have been widely criticized by state and federal judges, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, law enforcement, and members of her own family.”
“In recent weeks, we received notice from a plaintiff’s attorney known for frequently suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he planned to file a lawsuit on behalf of the children who had accused the Miles in the 1980s and who are now grown."

The Miles further stated:

“While it pains us to engage in litigation with former neighbors, especially individuals who have so clearly faced significant challenges in life, with the lawsuit they have filed, we are left with no choice but to defend ourselves in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. The allegations against us are false. While we feel deep sadness and concern for these individuals, any abuse they suffered did not involve us.”

Jardine concluded:

“We have full confidence that both the legal and journalistic processes will come to the same truth—that the Miles are completely innocent of these allegations. The Miles will vigorously defend against these false claims and will be completely vindicated. To that end, we will be filing today a motion to dismiss this complaint. Child sexual abuse is evil; so is a false accusation of such abuse.”

The complaint filed in federal court can be read here:

The Miles motion to dismiss the lawsuit can be read here:

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