Victims speak: Man says his former child sex abuser is current LDS bishop
(KUTV) — Jared says he was molested by his uncle when he was a boy and that same uncle, recently, though many years later, was asked to be an LDS bishop.
Though they were both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jared said he's had to deal with the ramifications of that sexual violation his entire life -- and he doesn't blame the Church for it.
"Bad things happen in this world and I get that," he said, speaking for the first time publicly about it.
He told KUTV when uncle was recently called to be a bishop -- the lay leaders leader of a local congregation -- and Jared knew his uncle would be behind closed doors, one-on-one with children, and he couldn't keep the knowledge of the abuse to himself.
"I have always tried to take care of this through channels that the Church would prefer," Jared said. "We have tried to do it the way things should be done, but they just seem not to care."
As a temple-recommend carrying member of the Church at that time, Jared contacted his own bishop who talked to the local stake president — a man who oversees several bishops and congregations in an area. The information was then given to his uncle's stake president.
Nothing happened until he brought up the situation again, asking for another meeting to address the issue. He was told by a general authority — a man with full time administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church, instead of local authority — that because the abuse wasn't documented by two or more people, it was his word against his uncle's and nothing could be done.
While speaking with Jared on a Sunday afternoon, he told KUTV that as far as he knew his sexually abusive uncle could be meeting alone with a child that same day.
"It is kind of dumbfounding to us that they don’t seem to care," he said.
After questioning the Church, Jared and his wife are no longer members in good standing. Their temple recommends, a measure of worthiness for the faithful, are gone.
"We are the ones who are ostracized in a community and he is still bishop. That just is not right," he said.
A year later, Jared doesn't know what else to do but speak publicly about what he views as a dangerous situation. He is also supporting the movement inside the Church, highlighted by a current hunger strike, to change the policy so that no children meet alone with adults.
"To give them a platform to invite kids into an office and close the door, in certain situations that can be pretty dangerous," Jared said.
"We have been frustrated, but seems like things only change when people go to great lengths. The Church, I think in my case, and a lot of cases in these stories, are more concerned about their image than about people and that is concerning," he added.
Jared said he wants only to have children protected and isn't asking for retribution. He is happy with his life, feels successful and has achieved his goals. He lives now in southern Idaho and is a pilot for a major airline. His uncle is a bishop in northern Utah.
"I have no angle on this other than there is a danger here that needs to be addressed. Not looking for money or fame or anything else," he said.
He thinks his local bishop and stake president believe him while those who don't know him, doubt his story.
"Church policy shouldn’t be who they believe," he said. "In my opinion, it is negligent. Any professional in the field of abuse or a law enforcement office would say the same thing. But the Church doesn’t see it that way, I guess. It isn't just my story. It is story after story and that is frustrating."
He said the Church's legal team knows his story, and of the situation.
"I was fine with this my entire life, but the way they treated me completely re-victimized me," he said.
He believes the change in policy would be a massive step in the right direction.
NOTE: KUTV, in accordance with its policy and that of other news organizations including the Associated Press, does not name victims of sexual assault unless they identify themselves. In these victims' stories we have also not named the accused. KUTV has no way to verify these accounts that were reported from victim's childhoods.