SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – When a case of child sexual abuse comes to light in a community or congregation, it can be challenging to talk about, but advocates say that communication is extremely important in prevention and healing.
A viewer who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent ABC4’s Sarah Martin an audio recording of a bishop trying to explain one of these horrible cases to his Utah congregation.
ABC4 will not share the suspect’s name, the congregation, or even the city to protect the identity of the victims.
It could have happened in any city, community, or faith. A member was arrested and charged with possessing and creating massive quantities of child pornography.
The congregation leader chooses to try and clear the air, “We knew at some point that this day would come and we would have to make an announcement and let you be aware of what’s going on and the facts so that there would be no speculation. The appropriate measures have been taken in a ward and a stake arena to talk to families who he was near or who associated with him and it’s been discussed with them.”
The bishop goes on to ask that the congregation not research the details of the case.
“It’s up to us to stop the speculation and the discussion, it’s not our news to discuss, it’s our burden to share and help provide an atmosphere that the family can start to heal at some point.
He offers anyone who would like more information to talk to him personally.
Prevent Child Abuse Utah says these horrible situations can be prevented and handled.
Executive Director of PCAU Laurieann Thorpe, says, “The number one thing is to talk about it, with the appropriate terms so that we’re openly addressing that there is a possibility always in any circumstance of child sexual abuse.”
The vast majority of abuse happens at the hands of a person known and trusted by the parents, so it’s important that when stories like this come up, parents are asking their children, “Has anything like this happened? and ask again, Has anything like this happened? And help them understand they have autonomy and can say no and can get help.”
Thorpe recommended these resources:
- For parents and community members: Prevent Child Abuse Utah Free Training
- For parents: StopItNow
- For community and ecclesiastical leaders: Unitarian Universalist Association