Sunstone 1991, 80: Child Sexual Abuse in the LDS Community


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From the 1991 Summer Symposium in Salt Lake City

Presentation: Child Sexual Abuse in the LDS Community


Marion Burrows Smith, co-founded, former executive director, Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center.

Carlos Y. Robey, executive director, Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center; former director, Utah State Prison Residential Program for Sex Offenders.

Brent D. Ward, senior vice-president and general council. Huntsman Chemical Corporation; former U.S. Attorney, District of Utah.

Marsha, mother of a victim.

Laura Blanchard, program chairperson, Utah County Child Abuse Council; chairperson, Advisory Board for Utah County Children’s Justice Center.

Abstract: Child sexual abuse is epidemic in Utah with its 73 percent LDS population. The Church promotes comprehensive youth programs and a reverence for authority which gives perpetrators of sexual crimes unique access to fresh victims. LDS neighborhoods are warm and friendly, an ideal environment for child molesters, most of whom at relatives or family friends. When discovery of abuse occurs, untrained Church leaders may try to treat pedophilia and other sexual disorders with counseling which fails to alter behavior. The panel will explore ways to identity and treat victims and perpetrators. It will discuss typical Church and parental responses to reported abuse, examine the presence of neighborhood sex rings in Utah, outline help which is available, and offer suggestions for more effective ways of dealing with this illness in our society.