But not in the Mormon Church.
The Church of Latter-day Saints keeps a handle on sexual abuse happening in its ranks in part by having church leaders funnel reports to a designated “helpline.” That “helpline” doesn’t ring to police; it connects to a law firm, Kirton McConkie, with close ties to the Mormon Church.
That law firm, founded by church members, also defends the church in abuse-related lawsuits, and critics say it exists to protect the church over victims, who are often shunned in their own communities.
“It’s a helpline for the lawyers, not for the children or anybody else,” said Timothy Kosnoff, a lawyer who represents plaintiffs and has gone up against Kirton McConkie in more than a hundred cases. “It gives them an opportunity to get involved, to quickly send lawyers out there. Talk to victims. Silence them if they can.”
Details about the Mormon Church’s abuse reporting system emerged in a lawsuit settled by the church in 2018 with church members who claimed it stood by and did nothing as their children were repeatedly abused by a young church “elder.”
The young man, who repeatedly babysat Mormon children in his Martinsville, West Virginia, community, was sentenced to 35 to 75 years in a Virginia state prison. At the time of his sentencing, a state judge classified him as a “violent sexual predator.”