Tuesday 6 December 2016

Woman accuses Irish Mormon Church of sex abuse cover-up

Aoife Finneran

Published 30/11/2011 | 05:00

THE Mormon Church in Ireland is being sued by a young woman who claims its members tried to cover up alleged sexual abuse of her by one of the church's elders.

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The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has also brought an action against her alleged abuser, who served as a missionary in Ireland for the Irish Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The man has since left the country.

The woman, who is Irish and converted to Mormonism in her teens, says the abuse took place when she was a minor.

She is seeking damages against the church and the man, and claims she has suffered loss and damage as a result of the alleged sexual abuse, assault and false imprisonment committed by the man.

The woman is suing the Mormon Church for alleged fraudulent concealment and for allowing the man to have unsupervised contact with her, which she claims exposed her to risk of injury and allowed her to be exploited.

She also claims the church disregarded its own guidelines and advice that female elders were at all times to accompany young female members and failed to take any adequate steps to investigate her claims.

The court heard that due to data protection laws the church is unable to provide the girl's lawyers with her alleged abuser's address in the US.

However, her lawyers have found his home address in the US through private investigators and have obtained an order allowing them to serve the man with notice of the proceedings at his US address.

Missionary

In her claim, the young woman alleges the abuse commenced around March 2007 when the man took charge of her religious instruction.

She claims that the abuse took place at various locations outside Dublin where the man was serving as a missionary. She claims that initially the man commenced with inappropriate touching before advancing to more serious forms of abuse including forcing her to perform oral sex.

She also claims that on one occasion, the man forcibly restrained and sexually abused her while another church elder acted as sentry and alerted her alleged abuser that other church members were approaching.

She claims that she asked her alleged abuser to stop but he replied that "while it was sin for others to act like this" it was not for him as he "was worthy and had been chosen by God". He also tried to convince the girl that everything he did "had manifested through the holy spirit".

The woman claims that despite feeling upset and confused by what was happening she was told that dreadful things would happen to her if she told anyone about the abuse.

She alleges that when she told senior church members, they told her not to reveal this to her non-Mormon parents or the gardai. The man moved to another part of Ireland, before eventually returning to the US. The girl left the church in 2008.

She claims the abuse has had a terrible effect on her life. Her health and well-being, and relationships with others have all suffered. She claims that she started to self-harm and suffered an eating disorder.

According to her statement of claim she has not made a formal complaint but intends to do so as soon as she feels well enough.

Irish Independent

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