Clergy should be required to report child abuse, group behind MormonLeaks says

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The nonprofit group behind MormonLeaks called on lawmakers Wednesday to remove the “clergy exemption” from Utah law when it comes to mandatory reporting of child abuse. 

Currently in Utah, members of clergy are not required to report child abuse if it is confessed by the perpetrator. The Truth and Transparency Foundation, the nonprofit behind MormonLeaks and FaithLeaks, has released documents it said showed that “clergy typically and intentionally avoid reporting abuse to law enforcement in states where they are required to do so…”

The group specifically named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as one of the entities where Utah clergy members often fail to report abuse if it is confessed. 

“We, at the TTF, believe that any exemption of clergy members in mandatory reporting laws is an affront to the safety and well-being of abuse survivors…,” the group said Wednesday. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages members and leaders to “be alert and diligent and to protect children and others against abuse.” 

The Church’s Handbook 2: Administering the Church also counsels: 

Church leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities. In some locations, leaders and teachers who work with children and youth are considered “mandated reporters” and must report abuse to legal authorities. Similarly, in many locations, any person who learns of abuse is required to report it to legal authorities.

TTF sent an email to state lawmakers in Utah Wednesday, imploring them to protect survivors by doing away with the clergy exemption in Utah law, which says: 

The notification requirement….does not apply to a member of the clergy, with regard to any confession made to the member of the clergy while functioning in the ministerial capacity of the member of the clergy and without the consent of hte individual making the confession, if: 

(a) the perpetrator made the confession directly to the member of the clergy; and 

(b) the member of the clergy is, under canon law or church doctrine or practice, bound to maintain the confidentiality of that confession. 

The current law also states clergy members are required to report abuse if they learn about it from any source other than the perpetrator. TTF has started a petition about the issue. 

Many states have similar exemptions for clergy members. 

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...