Church Calls Child Abuse Report Irresponsible

Yesterday a lawsuit was filed in Oregon charging The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America with ignoring sexual abuses by a former member of the Church.

The merits, or lack of merits, in this case, will be decided by the courts. However, the way in which the Oregonian, the Portland daily newspaper, reported the Church’s reaction was irresponsible. In its news story this morning, the Oregonian said that the Church failed to return telephone calls from their reporter asking for comment.

In fact, the call from the Oregonian was received in Church offices in Salt Lake City at 5:03 p.m. local time and was promptly referred to the Church’s attorney in Portland most familiar with the case. Attorney Steve English had been available all day and had already responded to many news media calls. The Oregonian reporter left a voice mail with English at the end of the business day, but failed to connect.

It is the responsibility of a reporter to ensure as far as possible that parties to a story are given adequate time to respond — not to leave a voice mail at the end of the day in the hope that it may be picked up.

The Church considers the widely reported statement of the plaintiffs’ attorney alleging that the Church “had a serious, institution-wide infestation of child abuse, stretching across the country,” to be outrageous. Additionally, the Oregonian reporter did not ask the Church's spokesman to respond to this assertion.

In fact, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was one of the first churches to recognize the serious problem of child abuse. We know of no church that has done more to address child abuse than the LDS Church, as detailed here.

Additional Resources

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.