Concerned mothers are speaking out after their children were allegedly sexually abused by a Mormon church member, and church officials allegedly helped to cover up the allegations – sometimes using their victims’ hotline.
The Church of Ladder-Day Saints (LDS) reportedly recommended Christopher Michael Jensen to be a babysitter for certain kids despite the fact that he had two prior felony convictions for sexual assault when the church vouched for him.
“I was getting ready to put my youngest son, who was four at the time, on the bus,” a whistle-blower named Helen W. said to Vice News. “He started crying and he says to me, ‘Mom, he makes me suck his privates,’ and the world just sort of stopped.”
After Helen W. learned of this abuse, she claims she went to LDS Bishop Don Fishel instead of authorities. Fishel told Helen W. he would “figure out what was going on.”
From there, she claims that Fishel returned to her and said no abuse ever took place because “Michael is a good kid from a good family.” LDS officials deny this conversation ever happened.
Another whistle-blower, referred to as Spring T, came forward with similar allegations against Jensen.
“I broke down. Nothing really prepares you for that, and so I just completely broke down,” Spring T. said after learning of the abuse in 2012, “and I left the room, and I just went into the bathroom and just cried.”
Her Bishop ignored her when she reached out, so she went to law enforcement instead.
“When you look at it from a different viewpoint of it not being a sin and it being a crime, then… I needed to put it into their hands,” she said.
It is also alleged that the LDS abuse hotline is used to quash claims and pressure those who have been wronged into silence. The hotline is connected to LDS’ lawfirm, Kirton McConkie.
“Instead of calling 9-1-1, [bishops] are specifically instructed not to do that and instead call this 1-800-help-line number, which incidentally rings into the offices of the church’s lawyers,” said lawyer Tim Kosnoff, who has squared off against McConkie in over 100 cases, to Vice News.
“It’s a help line for the lawyers, not for the children or for anybody else,” he added. “It gives them an opportunity to get involved quickly, send lawyers out there, talk to victims, [and] silence them if they can.”
When Jensen was finally in court to be held accountable for his many crimes, he was defended by a member of the Mormon High Priesthood.
“I felt betrayed that they would rally around this individual – Michael Jensen – who is a serial pedophile, and they rallied around him, and there was no protection and no support for my children or for any of the other children or for the family,” Spring T. said.
Jensen is currently serving a minimum of 35 years in prison after being convicted in the court of law for sex crimes against children, but the aggrieved mothers are still searching for justice. The LDS continues to deny any wrongdoing.
The entire “Vice News Tonight” report can be viewed here:
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