I could have gave this article it's own thread,i think it's best here.
Abuse and accountability Click for image
Seattle Times - United States
... for an opportunity to molest, is a Christian church where the ... whose ecclesiastical policies inadvertently permit supposedly repentant pedophiles to repeat ...
The trust of a child is a very delicate matter, creating a tremendous burden of responsibility for the adult caregiver. This burden is also an explicit duty, both moral and legal, to assure that the child's trust is not misplaced by allowing a sexual predator to covertly abuse that boy or girl.
Of all the places you would not expect to find such people lurking, waiting for an opportunity to molest, is a Christian church where the words of Jesus are commonly enshrined, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven."
But there are presently some religious denominations whose ecclesiastical policies inadvertently permit supposedly repentant pedophiles to repeat their dirty work under a shield of the priest-counseling privilege. Why these churches routinely protect their identity is incomprehensible.
These allegedly penitent sex offenders satisfy their cravings until their young victims finally cry abuse to their parents. In most cases, these confused pre-adolescents seriously believe they are the ones to blame and continue into adulthood laboring under a severe burden of guilt.
This is usually the first time that the shocked parents are made aware that a sex offender has been in their midst, that the culprit has been sitting in their congregation every Sunday acting as a humble and respected parishioner.
Even more egregious and startling is when the one officiating in the most sacred rites is the deceitful predator. Then, the church's ecclesiastical leaders are pointedly asked by the parents whether they knew that the perpetrator was a sex offender.
With defensive tones, the bishops, archbishops and chief ministers cajole the victims — both the children and the parents — into believing that the offender, who typically was placed by the governing clergy in a respected position allowing him access to the children, repented of his sins and went through a period of penance that absolved him of all wrongdoing.
The victims are encouraged to undergo church-sponsored counseling and to forgive the sinner and try to forget, especially about any thoughts of holding the church legally accountable for damages inflicted on the children.
The most recent incident of sexual molestation emanating from inside a religious denomination occurred in Mountlake Terrace, where there is presently the highest density of Level II and Level III sex offenders within the entire state of Washington.
David Henry Herget, a Mormon high priest and convicted Level I sex offender — a person whom I knew — was arrested July 1 on suspicion of 18 charges, including child rape and sexual exploitation of a child. He died early the next day while on suicide watch at Snohomish County Jail.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a very questionable policy of shielding its lay clergy who previously have committed sexual child molestation but supposedly have repented of their crimes. It is a policy that should be promptly amended.
Herget was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in 1993 after a conviction for child rape, but subsequently was re-ordained to his priesthood office in 2004. During the interim, Herget's status as a convicted sex offender was mostly unknown to the rank-and-file Mormon congregation in Mountlake Terrace, which allowed him the opportunity to mingle with, and gain the confidence of, the local Mormon children.
For most of a decade, the Catholic Church has been unsuccessful in using the priest-counseling privilege as a valid defense in the numerous lawsuits alleging abuse by the Catholic clergy. This futile attempt at ecclesiastical privilege, in order to protect the church from liability, has also been tried by attorneys representing the LDS Church in more than 30 sexual-abuse lawsuits across the country.
Perhaps it is high time that the Mormons, and all other churches that routinely protect the identity of sex offenders, take a long hard look at their disclosure policies and whom they regularly ordain as priests.
Norton R. Nowlin is a paralegal and freelance writer residing in Mountlake Terrace. He has been an elder in the Mormon Church since 1972. E-mail him at
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