People march to LDS Church headquarters to protest sexually explicit youth interviews

People march to LDS Church headquarters to protest sexually explicit youth interviews (Photo: Patrick Fitzgibbon / KUTV)

(KUTV) - A portion of State Street in downtown Salt Lake City was completely shut down Friday afternoon as hundreds of people took to the streets and marched to LDS Church headquarters at North Temple and State Street.

Their message – stop allowing LDS Bishops to have one-on-one interviews with youth and stop allowing them to ask sexually explicit questions.

“One-on-one interviews with children is dangerous and damaging. It grooms our kids for sexual predators,” said Sam Young, a former LDS bishop from Texas who organized the event.

Many of the marchers showed up with very personal stories.

“I’m a new mom, my daughter is five months old, I had an experience myself that’s taken many years to come to terms with. I feel it’s really important to protect these kids from things like this happening,” said Taylor Roberts who said she was raped by an LDS “priesthood leader.”

“It teaches children that it’s okay to go behind closed doors with a middle age man and tell them about their bodies and talk about sexual questions, and that’s what opens the door for future pedophiles and future predators,” said Marissa, another marcher.

The protestors eventually made their way to the church office building where they handed over what they said was 55,000 petition signatures and 15 books with individual stories to two church public affairs employees.

One of those employees was Irene Caso, a church spokesperson who released the following statement to media.

We share a common concern for the safety and well-being of youth. We condemn any inappropriate behavior or abuse regardless of where or when it occurs. Local Church leaders are provided with instructions regarding youth interviews and are expected to review and follow them.
A caring, responsible spiritual leader plays a significant role in the development of a young person by reinforcing the teaching of parents and offering spiritual guidance. We express gratitude for the thousands of volunteer Church leaders—men and women—who selflessly serve and mentor youth, individuals, and families throughout the world. As with any practice in the Church, we continually look for ways to improve and adjust by following the Savior in meeting the needs of our members.
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