The Mormon church is undergoing a controversy involving child sex abuse cases, with critics claiming that the church seriously mishandled reports of pedophiles in its ranks, reports the National Law Journal (Nov. 16).
Although the number of cases might seem small compared with the many cases filed against the Catholic Church, there are at least five suits pending against the church around the country, “seeking huge punitive damages awards.” One of the plaintiff’s lawyers believe there are “hundreds and hundreds of more cases,” although church officials deny that claim.
Rev. Thomas H. Economus, president of The Linkup, a Chicago advocacy group for victims of clergy-related sex abuse, says the Mormon church and the Catholic church have a similar litigation style. “They just circle the wagons and then viciously go after [victims and their families].”
But there are also important differences between the Catholic and Mormon cases. Mormon clergy and church leaders — except the highest officials — are unpaid volunteers who usually have careers outside the church. This makes it difficult to show they are agents of the church. Rather than church leaders committing abuse, the Mormon cases more typically claim that a clergy member failed to protect children from a member of the congregation he knew was a pedophile.