Woman sues Mormon church for reporting husband’s child sex abuse
The wife of an Oregon sicko convicted of molesting the couple’s daughter is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — because Mormon officials reported his confession to authorities.
The $9.5 million lawsuit, filed Friday in Marion County Circuit Court, claims Timothy Samuel Johnson and his wife Kristine Johnson belonged to a congregation of the Mormon church in Stayton when she learned her husband had “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with a minor known to him, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.
The couple then followed church doctrine by having Timothy Johnson confess, in an attempt to repent for his sins, but leaders failed to tell him that they would later report his actions to local law enforcement, the filing claims.
The confession, according to the couple’s attorney, Bill Brandt, was meant to be confidential but church officials “totally violated” their own policies.
“It’s been devastating on the family,” Brandt told the newspaper. “They lost a husband and a father.”
Timothy Johnson, 47, was arrested in 2017 and was later sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse. He remains incarcerated at a prison in Pendleton, The Oregonian reports.
The lawsuit lists four of the couple’s children as plaintiffs, claiming the church’s actions have deprived them of Timothy Johnson’s “companionship, society, love, affection” and financial support.
The couple’s fifth child – who was molested by Timothy Johnson over a four-year span beginning when she was a preteen, according to court records – was not listed in the filing, The Oregonian reports.
In response to the lawsuit, the Utah-based Mormon church told the newspaper in a statement that “protecting victims and ensuring proper reporting” is one of its top priorities.
“The Church teaches that leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement. “In some circumstances, those obligations may be governed by their professional duty and in others by their role as clergy.”
Utah law requires both “private and public” officials – including clergy members — to report suspected child abuse to police or the state’s Department of Human Service.
The law, however, exempts clergy if they learned of the alleged abuse through “privileged” communication. But Kristine Johnson’s attorney claims the lay clergy member who reported the abuse is also a pharmacist, making it unclear how the state’s mandatory reporter law will impact the filing, The Oregonian reports.
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