Is there a Spotlight story in Utah similar to the Oscar winning movie plot?
The following story was written with the help of a local reporter who desires to remain nameless for protection, but the story was denied print due to the controversy it would incite. While one editor claimed he needed to further substantiate our claims, he refused to speak with us, view our evidences, speak with survivors or in any way investigate this issue. Several of the news outlets in Salt Lake City are in fact owned by the LDS Church and even those that are not may find themselves barred from pursuing a story like this by member editors, investors, partners etc. This is Boston all over again.
TO MEDIA: Please help us to protect the children of the LDS Church and Boy Scouts worldwide, and those children these communities have access to, by having the courage and committing the needed resources to investigating this issue with us. We will provide you with access to as many contacts, survivors, lawyers, community professionals etc as we can to aid in exposing the truth
Is there a Spotlight story in Utah similar to the Oscar winning movie plot?
Restore Our Humanity says ‘Yes’ as it takes on what it calls systemic child abuse within the LDS Church and Boy Scouts of America.
Two months ago, Spotlight co-producer, Michael Sugar, said during his Oscar acceptance speech that he hoped the award would amplify the voice of sex abuse survivors. Spotlight is based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into widespread sex abuse by Catholic priests, inevitably launching understanding into the abuse and cover up scandals we know of today. Restore Our Humanity, a Utah-based 501(c)(4) organization, hopes the buzz around the movie will encourage survivors of childhood sexual abuse, specifically those victims inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Boy Scouts of America, to come forward knowing they are not alone. It stands ready to offer them physical, emotional and legal support.
In Spotlight, Cardinal Bernard Law was forced to resign as Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston after The Boston Globe interviewed victims and published legal documents showing that church authorities had protected priests from prosecution. Law later worked at the Vatican. Lauren Elise McNamara, communications director of Restore Our Humanity, says these types of promotions after cover-ups are familiar to some accused of sexual abuse within the LDS ecclesiastical community.
“It is beyond negligent of the LDS Church to protect perpetrators of sex crimes. Putting these usually men in trusted positions of leadership further endangers everyone in the congregation especially those most vulnerable like the children in their care,” said McNamara.
According to this study, only 13.3% of victims are strangers to their perpetrators in Utah. The majority of perpetrators know their victims personally, 51.7% are family or an intimate partner because that perpetrator is looking for someone who will be easier for them to victimize. “When an organization covers up a crime of sexual assault, of a child or otherwise, they are ensuring that perpetrator continues to have access to more victims over the course of his or her lifetime,” said McNamara. She explains the closer the relationship with the victim the less likely the crime will be reported to police. “If that perpetrator is then put into a position of authority over others, this would only make victimizing more people that much easier.”
Restore Our Humanity has set up a hotline at 801-215-9748 as well as a survivor registration online. This is specifically for survivor’s worldwide of abuse whose perpetrators were representative of the LDS Church or BSA or whose abuse was covered up or kept from authorities or due process in any way by representatives of these organizations. Survivors or individuals representing minor children can register their experiences by clicking on the yellow “Survivors of Sexual Abuse” button and filling out the form on the corresponding page. Survivors may also choose to remain anonymous. If you or your child are a recent victim of sexual assault please also contact Utah Rape Crisis at 888-421-1100 and/or 911.
Utah ranks first in sex abuse rates of children. “It is the culture of the LDS church to groom girls especially to be easy prey to sexual predators and to groom its citizens and leaders to victim blame. This may not be intentional, but regardless it is happening,” said McNamara. McNamara said this is one area where the Catholic Church differs from the LDS church. “In 2016, the Catholic Church is treating women closer to equals and not treating them as subservient. Young women in the LDS church are still taught not to think much about their own well-being and to put the Church and the needs and desires of men first. The cultural norm to offer unearned trust freely to any priesthood holder which accounts for most men over the age of 12 is also problematic.”
McNamara said the organization is working with national support groups, trauma care professionals and other experts in the field to put together resources for survivors. It has retained the pro bono service of Matthew Long of Rowley, Chapman & Barney, Ltd., in Arizona to offer legal counsel and representation if need be. Long is featured here speaking about child sex abuse cases with Mormon Stories podcast host John Dehlin. “It is the goal that any services offered or litigation pursued may be done at no cost to the survivors,” McNamara said.
Spoiler Alert: Spotlight ends with the phone calls from victims after the Boston Globe article is published. McNamara said she hopes the Oscar winning movie will encourage dialogue from sexual abuse victims within Utah’s ecclesiastical community. “I would like those reading this article to watch the film and start looking for connections, similarities and differences in their own experiences,” said McNamara.
About Restore Our Humanity: We are an all-volunteer organization. We need volunteers in the healing arts professions with trauma and/or child abuse experience. We don’t pay salaries and we don’t have an office or operating costs. 100% of donations go to the work we are doing. But, we can’t continue this work without the support of the community. We will take this initiative as far as the community wants us to, but we need support. We ask those who support us and our work, to become a “Friend of Humanity”. This is a pledge of just $5 per month for one year (or whatever amount you feel called to commit). That’s a total of $60 in one year. Please support us in this effort to support survivors and to help stop sexual abuse of Children in the ecclesiastical community. Please go to Restore Our Humanity and pledge by clicking the “Become a friend of Humanity Utah.”
It is the hope of Restore Our Humanity that through believing first, then providing survivors with the resources they need, that the cycles of child abuse that have gone on in the LDS Church and in Boy Scouts of America for far too long can be addressed. Restore Our Humanity invites members and leaders of both communities, who have shown such great compassion and commitment to community activism in the past, to join Restore Our Humanity in this endeavor, to encourage their loved ones who have suffered to come forward for help, to love those survivors in their communities through this often difficult process of healing and to themselves commit to bravely confronting this difficult issue head on. Together we can finally offer voice, justice, and healing to survivors and we can do the hard work so that our communities become safer for our children.