Wednesday, November 23, 2005

FAIR's scummy board and its scummy moderators

I've never particularly cared for apologetics, but this just takes the cake. Over at the FAIR message boards they are discussing this case, which has also been discussed over at BCC. Here are some salient quotes from the news story:
"...Jessica Cavalieri, now 24, said she first told her church bishop in 1994 that Taylor had started abusing her when she was 7. She said her bishop, the local congregation leader, met with her mother and Taylor. But the bishop did not tell her mother about the abuse, Cavalieri said. Instead, he encouraged the family to work out problems through worship, she said.

"The girl was unaware her mother did not know of the abuse, and because her mother did not come to her aid, Cavalieri said, she felt ashamed and frightened to tell anyone else. She endured the abuse for five more years, while Taylor started abusing her younger sister, Ashley Cavalieri, according to court documents.

So she told the Bishop about the abuse and he did nothing. Other stories say that there might have been conflicting reports about the abuse, but frankly, the bottom line is that she told the Bishop and he sat on it for five years.

So how do you think the Christ-followers at the FAIR board reacted to this? (FAIR is a non-official, "amateur" Mormon apologetic organization.) They blamed the victim, of course! How dare she sue the Church! What a money-grubber! After several pages of criticism, the victim (or someone claiming to be her) then posted on the board. Were the posters shamed by the presence of the victim? No, they redoubled their personal attacks on her. At no point did the moderator appear. Finally, someone registered and insulted one of these bullies and was promptly reprimanded by the moderator for personal attacks. (To be fair, a few posters also jumped to Jessica's defense, but they have been shouted down by the majority and the moderators.)

I will post their comments because I think human trash like this need to be shamed publicly instead of hiding behind their scummy moderator.

One user with the ironic handle "Charity" left this message:
"The victim in this case is in a far worse situation now than she was. When you get revenge, you don't 'feel better.' You feel worse because you are disobeying cannot forgive when extracting vengeance. Every dollar she spends of that settlement will drive her further away from a healthy state. "
Thanks doctor!

No, he isn't done. He tops it with this disgusting diatribe:
"Of course, she should have told. And should have told sooner to save her sister from going through what she did. I find that pretty repugnant that she didn't. And I am sure she is suffering pangs of conscience that she could not get up the courage to do that...But in sueing [sic] the Church, she knew she was not going after those most responsible, her father, and her mother for telling her not to tell. She went after money. Money would not restore her stolen childhood. It was vengenace [sic] pure and simple. In our mortal experience, vengeance comes from the adversary. Whenever you give in to the enticings of Satan you are worse off."

This is wrong on so many levels that I'm speechless. Did he just blame a 12-year-old for the abuse of her sister? Yes, he did. I usually don't get all riled up about garbage on the Internet but that makes me want to pound some "charity" into his face.

At this point Jessica (the victim, or someone claiming to be her) has joined the conversation. What words of comfort will the next poster bring? Scumbag #2? You're up.
"Enjoy the bling. It will be so much more comforting than addressing the real issues here...Were you truly LDS and not an opportunist, you would know [that the sex abuse reporting guidelines have been changed]."
Our final slimeball starts out by calling the victim "a greedy opportunist." He follows with a letter addressed to her:
"I'm sorry, but that last remark is simply untrue. It is clearly an attempt to claim immunity from criticism by exploiting your 'Victim'[TM] status. If you read this thread, you will discover what you presumably already know, namely that the Church made specific policy changes in 1994 to address this very issue. The criticism you have bought for yourself with your ill-gotten $4,200,000 is not for being an abuse victim (sob) but for your opportunistic money-grubbing. I don't have a problem with you going after the abuser; so you should. But siccing that vile ambulance-chaser onto us on the flimsy pretext that your stepfather was a member of the Church at the time was utterly cynical and self-serving."
If this is what its amateur apologists are stooping to, the Church should disavow them and their scummy message board immediately. How embarrassing and enraging.

No offense intended but I hope these people rot in hell.


D-Train said...

No joke, man. And never a word about how such a piece of shit can be made into a leader of a flock.

I love this church, but I don't like any attitude that prizes the defense of the institution over the purpose of it: caring for the members.

I agree with you one hundred and ten percent. I'm ashamed to be called by the same name as these people.

If my language is too bad, feel free to take it down. No offense taken in advance. That's just about the only description that I can have of that, uh, gentleman.

NFlanders said...

Don't worry, D-Train. I think you were being restrained.

Anonymous said...

Hey, its nomdujour here. How does Charity get his name up but not me.

Please tell me FAIR hasnt scared everyone from calling those fools on their shit.

DISGRACE!!!!!!!!! What a disgrace.

NFlanders said...

Hey Nomdujour, nice to see you. Since you only registered to confront those slimeballs, I didn't think your handle was going to be long-lasting. But in the interest of fairness, let me announce that Nomdujour was the person who was censured by the moderator for attacking "Charity" et al.

I consciously didn't want to name any of those guys because they'll probably welcome the attention, but the irony of Charity's handle was too much to resist.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the welcome, nomdujour

Ben S. said...

You go Ned.

Smear the whole board and all amatuer apologists because of one person's comments which, while offensive and really stupid (I'm not disagreeing with you here), are still within the posting guidelines of the board.

The mods don't delete comments for stupidity, only for violating the comment guidelines, which include personal attacks. They're pretty vigilant about that.

BTW, I believe Charity is a female.

Ben S. said...

OK, apologies for the last comment. It came out much snarkier than I intended.I just get a little defensive because I think FAIR does some good work. The FAIR boards are another thing entirely, and there are few actual FAIR folks who post there. It's kind of a free-for-all.

Bottom line: stupidity isn't against the rules. Attacking other posters is.

Anonymous said...

Here's another sick gem from that thread, Ned:

(by another poster other than "Charity"):

"It's the new version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" People see a successful organization, with allegedly lots of bank, and they want a piece of it. I wouldn't be surprised if one day I hear about someone suing the church simply because they were sideswiped by a car that had Utah license plates."

Primary President said...

I've posted about this elsewhere, and I didn't want to interrupt the discussion at BCC because it's a rather tangential topic, but I'm very concerned that the Church does NOT in fact have appropriate policies in place to protect its children.

For example, there have been a few instances while I've been Primary President that have made me realize that the Church could do more in this area. First, there was a documented child molester roaming the halls of the Church one Sunday. I found this out from someone gossiping in the halls. No one told me or anyone else in the Primary or Nursery to watch out for this person. I asked the bishop why I (or a Primary/Nursery worker) wasn't told that there was a child molester attending our Church, and he said he thought we all have obligations as a congregation to watch out for our children, and that he was keeping an eye on this man. I haven't seen this man at Church again, but I believe someone in Primary should have been informed as to his presence.

Second, I expressed discomfort with the fact that married male who just moved in to our Ward would be teaching a class of girls and boys. I didn't know this person, and maybe I was being overly paranoid, so I suggested to the Bishop that we call both the husband and the wife to be teachers. Again, he dismissed my suggestion, and said there was nothing to worry about (is there a background check for Primary/Nursery workers?).

Finally, I have repeatedly asked members of the bishopric for the Church policy that provides guidelines for Primary and Nursery workers who interact with children at Church. I've been told that there might be something out there (I haven't found anything), but no one knows for sure if anything like this exists.

I've done a fair bit of research online as to how other churches approach this issue, and found that many religious organizations post detailed policies and guidelines online that provide information to parents and state the qualifications and standards for nursery workers. It seems to me if the Church can correlate the educational curriculum for its millions of worldwide members, broadcast General Conference in 78 languages (or whatever it is) and maintain an impressive multimedia website, that the Church could develop and publish guidelines in this area, and then demonstrate a dedicated effort to enforce them.

RoastedTomatoes said...

Ben, I understand that you have ties of various kinds to FAIR and therefore have a desire to defend the organization when you see people as being unfair towards it. But this conversation represents an institutional failure by the whole organization, and not just a problem with the posters. You excuse the brutality and anti-Christian behavior that Ned quoted by saying that being stupid isn't against the rules, only personal attacks are. Yet at least one of the statements Ned quoted was clearly a personal attack on the abuse victim (by that point a FAIR message board poster). When someone said, "The criticism you have bought for yourself with your ill-gotten $4,200,000 is not for being an abuse victim (sob) but for your opportunistic money-grubbing," were they not engaging in personal attacks?

The failure to energetically react to these personal attacks, while simultaneously responding vigorously to others, is an institutional failure by FAIR. To the extent that this institutional failure reflects an anything-goes-if-it's-in-favor-of-the-church mentality, then this incident may legitimately reinforce some people's darkest fears about FAIR as an organization, and not just about the message board and its posters.

Finally, let me just say that I am saddened that our religious community actually produces a reasonable number of nutcases like this.

Anonymous said...

For those at FAIR decrying the $4 million verdict and calling Jessica a moneygrubber, I'd rather give my tithing money to a child seriously harmed by the missteps and mistakes (intentional or not) made by the dysfunctional Church bureaucracy than to the real estate developers to rebuild the Crossroads Plaza mall. And don't even get me started about BYU.

Jessica deserves every penny she gets (which probably won't be that much after the bloodsucking lawyers get their share) and more. I hope she is able to get past this horrible episode in her life and I wish her the very best.

Anon said...

The mods don't delete comments for stupidity, only for violating the comment guidelines, which include personal attacks. They're pretty vigilant about that.

Actually, they're not. Pahoran, for example, a polemicist who routinely leads the charge on any abuse thread, often levels personal attacks against other posters. He does not let the facts--or his ignorance of the facts--get in the way of defending the church at all costs in these cases.

Would the church admit negligence in a abuse case and concede that local leaders messed up or did not follow guidelines? Or does the church fight every lawsuit?

Ben S. said...

"But this conversation represents an institutional failure by the whole organization, and not just a problem with the posters. You excuse the brutality and anti-Christian behavior that Ned quoted by saying that being stupid isn't against the rules, only personal attacks are."

I fail to see how a handful of moderators not doing the job you think they should represents "an institutional failure of the whole organization." Even if they ARE allowing more than they should (and boards tend to be fairly high-heat places), that would not represent an institutional failure any more than a low-level democratic member screw-up should lead us to demonize the whole democratic party.

To be honest, I haven't even bothered keeping up with that thread because of the heat to light ratio. I quit reading before I saw anything approaching anti-Christian and brutal behavior.

In my experience, the mods are much more sensitive to personal attacks *on other posters* than public figures, but one could argue that. I did not know someone claiming to be Jessica had chimed in to the thread.

Any animosity I have with the *results* of this case is with a) blood-sucking lawyers looking for the biggest ambulance they can find, and b) critics who will use it as a club, as further evidence of "institutional failure of the whole organization," to reapply RT's phrase. The so-called RfM board has already had at least one such comment.

NFlanders said...

RoastedTomatoes-- Exactly. I couldn't have stated it any better.

Primary President-- Very frightening. Frankly, I'm surprised that in this day and age, men are still being called to unsupervised positions in Primary. The Church still has a long way to go in protecting kids, and lawsuits are apparently the only language it understands. I would feel a lot more comfortable if all the doors were replaced with glass doors, even the bishop's office.

NFlanders said...

Ben, if I were an organization devoted to defending a church (one I believed to be the true church of Christ), I might not want to let my message boards become a forum for insulting sex-abuse victims. Just a thought.

Also, I think you have too much of an apologist mentality here. Guess what, RfM will criticize the Church no matter what. Our job should be to improve the Church so that criticism isn't valid, not to ignore terrible problems (like sex abuse) just so RfM can't use it against us. Again, I think our highest priority should be to the victims and not the church's image.

chris g said...

I don't know how much of some of the comments I agree with. Usually I think if you feel you are justified in a sensitive topic it means you come across too far over on your own side. Being balanced usually means sucking up some of what one considers righteous indignation. I avoid FAIR boards because this seems like a foreign concept to many. Feeling like you need to show others the error and evilness of their ways rarely leads to good dialog.

chris g said...

Ned, I agree that real improvement and change should be what everyone is after, but I think the realities of a PR world don't vanish despite the sensitivities of issues such as child abuse.

Personally I can't stand the non-windowed doors in church. As a teacher, I have never felt comfortable closing them despite loud hall noise. Changing this would seem reasonable.

nomdujour said...

I have been back to FAIR this morning. I truly dont know why I bother. Those posters are evil. In my opinion, until the Church rebukes that kind of hostility, they are endorsing it with their silence. And the silence of many, to me makes them look as if they wish they could be Pahoran.

I dont mind Pahorans jabs. I can get in there with that. Its the stubborn hatred that bothers me. Quite frankly, I would understand and accept it more if he just said someone was an asshole or a bitch, rther than rant about how perfect the church is and every person there, and how evil, moneygrubbing, greedy, gullible, sinful, unwise, unlearned, uninspired all are with a contrary opinion. What an ass. All who defend are smeared with his mess, Charity too.

chris g said...

I haven't been sadistic enough to check out the board. This case aside, I hope people aren't saying it is never permissable to mount a defense. This take seems quite unconstitutionable. However it is a feeling I sometimes get when issues such as abuse, torture in war, race, etc come up.

Making certain things sacrosanct seems to do anything but encourage an open society. However often delicate issues seem to get treated this way in a well meaning attempt to keep from crushing those involved. That's fair, but isn't a balanced view that deals with real criticism appropriate. Too much shielding is just as bad as too much schrilling.

Clark Goble said...

Let me repeat what I said at BCC. Fourms are in general a poor format. The produce far more heat, trolling and flame wars than anything else. I don't visit them precisely because of that. And I frankly think that the FAIR forum may be doing more harm than good. (In that I agree with NF) However what's going on there really isn't out of ordinary with what goes on at [i]any[/i] forum.

Indeed on the blogs I moderate it is difficult to moderate because any deletion or editing brings cries of halting debate and the like. Yet if you don't you end up with the free for all that most Forums have. It's an issue I'm struggling with as those who know me know I don't like to cut off discourse. Yet I think there are many people less concerned with the issues than a feeling of exercising power in debate and a "rah rah team" kind of mentality.

So please don't think I'm excusing comments at any Forum. Just that I think your concern is basically with Forums in general and frankly with most comments at blogs.

Clark Goble said...

To be fair as well, the elements of the case weren't really known over at FAIR. (I've not checked it out since last night, so I assume things have progressed)

As reported in the paper it sounded like it was a case of the Bishop misunderstanding a situation and being held as responsible as the criminal. That's a very dangerous precedence to set if true. I'm just now reading the followups at BCC and it seems like there is indication of more wrongdoing by the Bishop. In which case obviously ones conclusions would be different.

However I worry about labeling as evil those going on limited knowledge. The alternative is merely to never talk about abuse cases nor the legal ramifications or to allow only a small range of discussion. I'm not sure I feel comfortable with that either.

nomdujour said...

Maybe I, the angry voice, should also clarify. Or maybe I am out of line. Clarks point about the efficiency of the boars is well said and a point where we agree. (after beginning this I noticed a polite response from Clark on FAIR, Thanks)

I dislike the immediate dismissal of the jury based on a newspaper article.

I dislike the accusations that the victim should/could have done more.

I dislike the expectations of the victim based on her assumed wisdom as a "teenager".

I dislike the inability to observe the faults, real or not, with the Church.

I think the Church wants to have its cake (absolute sustaining of infallible and inspired leaders) and to eat it too (dismissal of faults by the unanimously sustained and powerful leaders). I dislike that this thought is deemed heretical.

I dislike the circled wagons of the posters against outside thought, in this case outside thought is one that is not absolute defense of the church.

I dislike that Pahoran is embraced while spewing hate.

(At your suggestion, I will move this comment to FAIR, for now I may have bowed out)

D-Train said...

I'll be perfectly honest: I don't care two figs about what this board says about FAIR. It is likely the case that whoever runs the board over there isn't the same guy as is writing the BOM history stuff, etc.

I do think, though, that Ned's point about FAIR being an institution that's trying to make itself into the sword and shield of the faith is extremely relevant here. If people are looking into FAIR's scholarly defenses of LDS doctrine and stumble across these boards, it seems to me likely that they will have quite negative views of the boards and possibly of the organization.

Yes, it is an internet board and therefore prone to all sorts of horrible innuendo. But when you're trying to make yourself into a place where people can go to get the faithful history and apologetics, it's possible that this kind of thing is a problem.

Here's the other deal: being Mormon and being active, the vast majority of the people posting over there are probably quite conservative anyway. So it seems reasonable that they're against these punitive damage judgments in most cases. If that's the point that one feels strongly about, why not keep the rhetoric general? Why not say "This man did some horrible things, but the system of judgment that we have is problematic". Other comments seem to indicate that they feel this way generally.

Ned's description of the board as "scummy" is dead right because instead of attacking the system with which they disagree, they chose to make the application of the law of the land a personal issue and took it upon themselves to call someone whom they had never met, known, or heard of prior to this story to repentance for daring to apply the law of the land to the Church that stood idly by while she was molested.

Clark Goble said...

Just to add, since this point was made on BCC as well:

I think the Church wants to have its cake (absolute sustaining of infallible and inspired leaders) and to eat it too (dismissal of faults by the unanimously sustained and powerful leaders). I dislike that this thought is deemed heretical.

I don't think this true. First off far too many members have been or have been involved with leadership to believe that there is any absolutes or infallibility with leaders. Far from it in my opinion. I suspect that backbiting and criticism is more of a problem than the blind faith you describe. (Which is not to say it doesn't happen - just that it isn't as ubiquitous as you suggest)

Sustaining someone's stewardship is a difficult thing, and really needs its own thread. I'd just say that how to sustain someone who is screwing up is a difficult matter. (Speaking generally and not in any way connected with this case) Bishops are human and say things untactfully, hurt feelings, and make poor decisions. I dare say that every Mormon has seen this. I can think of doozies from my own experience.

Unfortunately some decide the best way to deal with this is to criticize and tear down. (Once again not pointing at anyone involved in these discussions) I think that often has the opposite effect. PEople dig in heals. It's natural human psychology.

We ask a tremendous amount of Bishops and I frankly pray that I never have to be one. I doubt I will because if I was called I truly fear I'd be a horrible one. I just am not a good leader of that type. I don't have the skills. Yet people are called, the Lord tries to help them, but I dare say every Bishop struggles.

It's odd to suggest that this isn't taught in church. I've simply heard far too many talks of people telling of their struggles as leaders, or expressing remorse at people hurt inadvertently.

I was going to make some other points about law and the church, but I made them over at BCC so I'd direct you there.

Clark Goble said...

Whoops. That obviously should read, "people dig in heels."

nomdujour said...

Thanks Clark. Thanks Ned for hosting this in a side venue.

Clark there is much that we disagree on (shocker eh) however, I find your responses on this refreshing.

I want to address one point and then I will cease, as I have at FAIR, and go be a silent observer at your other board.

you said - I don't think this true. First off far too many members have been or have been involved with leadership to believe that there is any absolutes or infallibility with leaders. Far from it in my opinion. I suspect that backbiting and criticism is more of a problem than the blind faith you describe. (Which is not to say it doesn't happen - just that it isn't as ubiquitous as you suggest)

I have been a leader and agree for the most part. It doesnt take too many high council meetings or PEC meetings to arrive at the point you describe. But, we are not talking about people like you and me. Nor does the church need to change for poeple like you and me.

The problem lies in the fact that some people, often women with less exposure to the nuances of leadership still are blindly following. They are the vulnerable ones. There are millions of followers in the church that still believe the bishop can speak as if it is the will of God. That trust helps the Church, and comes with liabilities too.

Here is an example. BYU bishop meets with a young couple. the couple is pushing the limits on the code of conduct so to speak. Bishop says, "I feel inspired for you, that you should get married."

You have two adults. In this case. Some would say - What a dork, how the hell does he know? Others - OK Bishop, we will do it.

That is a hypothetical. But my point is, there are some that just say OK. I can use the above case because I have seen it in real life, as extreme as my abbreviated description may sound.

I am done with all this. I am angry, admittedly. I wish I wasnt.

I want to summarize, but I will just stop. Enough.

Thanks Ned.

Anonymous said...

“Bottom line: stupidity isn't against the rules. Attacking other posters is”

If that is the policy at the FAIR boards, does that extend to FAIR as well? Is that the motto of FAIR in general? The comments Ned selected go way beyond stupidity. The content of any forum or weblog is a reflection of whoever runs the thing. I’m firmly opposed to the idea that comments and commenters are sacred. If something is out of line, it’s out of line, and what’s the big deal with deleting it? It’s not as if there aren’t a million other venues for whatever was said, so why leave it on your doorstep? I’m not saying you have to agree with the ruling in the Cavalieri case; but there are respectful ways to disagree, and the FAIR board doesn’t seem to foster respectful ways to disagree. I agree with NED, if FAIR doesn’t want to be viewed as sick, stupid, scummy, and desperate, they might want to do something about that board.

-the angry m

K.D. Clement said...

You know, this is the same thing I faced last year when I lived in Utah. I was the recipient of some pretty shoddy medical care, at the hands of a resident, and almost wound up dead. Thankfully the hospital I eventually went to had some top notch doctors and despite pain and anguish beyond description I am alive.

The doctors in the E.R. were enraged that I had been treated so poorly. One of the interns told my dad (off the record) that if he were my dad he would sue the A off the university system and the resident who treated me- etc. I didn't want to sue, but my father was confidentially told by other doctors that that was the only way to change the system or get the doctor to wake up-their own disciplinary actions didn't mean diddly.

I didn't want to follow this advice-but eventually I did. During the process I told my bishop (a doctor) and his wife that I was suing. They went from being supportive to arms length and I found out that the bishop's wife told someone during a VT visit that I was misguided and that there really isn't such a thing as malpractice.

I ended up not following through with the lawsuit-but I sure got to see how a patriarchal and self interested society works from the inside out. There are MANY parallels between the church and the medical community. Especially the unwillingness to own up to weaknesses within the system because they are in the business of "healing" in either a spiritual or physical form.

And, as in medicine, the person seeking healing is often the one hurt. If they don't seek change within the system or retribution they haven't stuck up for themselves or others. If they do they are labeled as money grubbing and opportunistic. Terrible. My wish, idealistic though it is, is that people would stop whining, start being honest, and have a bit of integrity by taking responsibility for mistakes. Yes, its a pie in the sky kind of wish but I still pray for such a world at night.

nomdujour said...


You brought me out of retirement to give you a huge, huge, huge thumbsup.

Clark Goble said...

Regarding leadership, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. I certainly believe there are bad or simply incompetent apples out there. When you think of how many wards there are and that Bishops switch over every 5 years or so it is inevitable. And to your example from BYU I could give quite a few examples of my own that are real. But a rather disagree with what I consider a frankly patronizing attitude towards women versus men. Women simply aren't the little flowers that could wilt in the sun that you portray. Many have been in leadership positions both in the church and out of the church and have dealt with leaders.

Put simply, I think more people have more common sense than you suggest. Once again I'm not denying that there aren't naive people out there. I've met many. But I don't think they are as plentiful as you suggest or even the majority. Most women I've met simply are far stronger and independent then you appear willing to give credit.

I should also add that both Ben and I brought up this issue in the main FAIR board and the continued existence of the FAIR boards and perhaps alternatives is being debated. I've never liked Forums for a variety of reasons. As I said I think they have a habit of bringing out the worst in everyone. FAIR's had them to let critics bring up their charges and to let them know there are places we are willing to engage them. However looking through several of the threads there I wasn't very impressed in the least. I think most of the active FAIR members and authors rarely visit the forums and I'm not sure they portray FAIR well.

However I'm sure that if FAIR drops them that they'll then be accused of repressing discussion and dialog and people will portray us as if we can't discuss issues. It's probably one of those situations where we just can't win.

nomdujour said...

Fair enough, we agree/disagree. Another point on which we agree, is that the naive and uninformed are few. The blindly loyal are few. We agree. But we also agree that they exist, whether they are large or small in number is less relevant to me. They exist and should be taken into consideration.

I was not patronizing women. Quite the contrary.

Have a good long weekend.

Clark Goble said...

No offense, but when you speak of millions in a church with an active population of around 10 million, it's hard to think you are speaking of only a few.

Stephen said...

namely that the Church made specific policy changes in 1994 to address this very issue

Part of the thing that was going on was that the Plaintiff was asserting that all she wanted was an apology and a policy change -- ignoring that there had been policies implemented, not to mention President Hinkley revisits the topic everysooften, down to stating that those guilty of abuse, even consistent verbal abuse, are not worthy to hold the priesthood or receive its blessings (including salvation in the kingdom of heaven).

People were harsh, my style is different (which means the way I would have moderated it is different, and probably would adversely affect overall dialog), but given the general level on the boards over there, the level of those posts was consistent.

You do make the interesting point that some topics, and some people, should be granted special status in terms of how their issues are discussed.

After all, very few think that bloodsucking lawyers needs to be deleted, even though it does seem like a harsh attack on the lawyers among us.

Clark had some very good points.

But the situation, at all levels, is perhaps more complex than the simple sample appears.

Jessica Cavalieri said...


I know the policies the Church has in place as well as the words spoken by Pres. Hinckley. Words that aren't put into action and policies that aren't effective is not a viable solution to this problem. The articles about my case only mention me telling the FIRST bishop. Another bishop in 1998, as well as a stake president and two offices of LDS Family Services were also aware of the abuse. This was in 1998, after the supposed miraculous help-line and flagging of the records Von Keetch loves to talk about.

Listen, my ex step-father was NEVER excommunicated, the Church's supposed policy of excommunicating all child molesters is NOT accurate. I keep hearing a lot of talk, especially from Von Keetch, who is infamous for his lies, and not a lot of action. The Church needs, AT LEAST, a policy stating that if a bishop is found to HAVE NOT reported abuse, when he should have, he is subject to Church discipline.

I guess I understand that people are upset that I said I never wanted money, only change, and they think there has been change, but I have not seen the changes. I see a PR message that is inaccurate, misleading, and policies that are STILL deficient.

I didn't get an apology, only having the Church lawyers drag me through the mud, call up every Mormon I know and tell them all about the abuse and lawsuit, having the Church lawyers try to divide and conquer my family and friends, and being called a liar for 4 years. I was hoping to be treated with a little more respect, but I was treated like garbage. The Church could have dealt with this problem with my sister and I years ago, but chose to ignore and keep covering up. When we needed their help with the police investigation, I saw the Church leaders involved rally around my ex step-father to protect him from prison and then I had the stake president telling my mom she should get back together with my step-father after the police investigation "died down."

Please, forgive me if I am angry, but I am tired of people criticizing me for what I am saying and I am tired of being called a liar. If you want to keep believing the Church is doing enough to combat child abuse and pedophiles in the Church, then tell me what the heck happened to me in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001...

Thank you to those who have offered kind words and support, it has given me strength and I shall never forget it.

You can only take my word that I would've dropped this lawsuit in a split second had I been given an apology and at least a sit down with someone influential enough to possibly change/create REAL and effective policies.

nomdujour said...

clark said - "No offense, but when you speak of millions in a church with an active population of around 10 million, it's hard to think you are speaking of only a few."

My bad. My error is even more exagerated when considering how few people are active. Oops. I do stand by my statement that there are many who believe a Bishop speaks for God and deserves blind loyalty.

nomdujour said...

Welcome Jessica,

In previous callings I have had to study these instructions. I recall meeting Hinckley shortly after these changes were suggested. After our brief meeting I couldnt wait to get home and tell my wife how hopeful I was that a new tone was being projected and that even in our relatively small meeting Hinckley had brought the hammer down on abusers and abuse in general.

Like Jessica, my elation was short lived. I concur that little changed. I know the Forums are not the Church, but I consider those attitudes of dismissal of fault, accusation of the victim and the persecution-complex to be typical of many at the local level of the church. That is my experience.

Hotline aside, there is little to no change among the members and managers in this area, in my opinion.

Stephen said...

Listen, my ex step-father was NEVER excommunicated, the Church's supposed policy of excommunicating all child molesters is NOT accurate. I keep hearing a lot of talk, especially from Von Keetch, who is infamous for his lies, and not a lot of action. The Church needs, AT LEAST, a policy stating that if a bishop is found to HAVE NOT reported abuse, when he should have, he is subject to Church discipline

I could go for that.

Having helped sponsor a JRCLS event where we had attorneys explain "what Bishops need to know" on this topic, and having served on the boards of Child Advocacy and Rape Crisis Centers, I may be overly sensitive to some of these issues, but I'm all in favor of that proposition.

Stephen said...

my ex step-father was NEVER excommunicated

That's wrong. Especially if he was sent to prison for what he did.

He should be excommunicated with readmission requiring first presidency review and approval.

That is straightforward, blunt, clear policy.

It seems that the real complaint is that the message that gets delivered regularly from the top isn't making it through the heads of the lay clergy, like (sadly) many other things.

That is more than too bad.

Well, I'm saddened, wish everyone well.

nomdujour said...

Why stop there? In fact, why even start there?

Shouldnt they also be held criminally liable and subject to civil damages? After all, the failure to report such events is negligent, IMHO.

jayneedoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jayneedoe said...

I am absolutely appalled at the Mormon Church’s handling of this entire tragedy. Hatch’s (in)actions were egregious and he is directly responsible, along with the subsequent LDS parties who chose NOT to report the abuse to the authorities, for Jesssica’s nightmare.

It just astounds me that an organization that claims to be God’s Kingdom on Earth would put this young woman through this. Hell, even at 24 she’s still so young and this has to be horribly traumatic.

I read the FAIR thread and am sickened by all the legal bullshit being bandied around. What does it matter whether the “law” entitled Jessica to sue or not? This was a child who went to her bishop for help and he didn’t help her! In fact, he made her suffering worse by NOT telling her mother. What kind of moron wouldn’t at least pass on Jessica’s remarks to her mother???

Church officials should have been on their knees begging Jessica for forgiveness and committing to pay for any treatment necessary for both Jessica and her sister. Instead they exacerbated the abuse, started by her step-father, by not admitting to their inept handling of the entire affair, and actually FIGHTING her in the lawsuit.

I literally have not heard of anything more un-Christian in my life.

Jesssica, I think you are exceptionally courageous to have taken on this lawsuit, and I agree that winning a huge lawsuit is the only way EFFECTIVE change will happen with regards to the Church’s policies and procedures. I was also severely abused during my childhood, and so I admire your tenacity and determination as it must be very frightening. You express yourself very well and I’m glad to know the whole story.

I also want you to know that the vile vitriol you’ve been exposed to at FAIR is nothing new. There is a “cabal” of posters who range from insensitive to outright cruel and malicious. You just happened to come along and provid new fodder for their heartless blatherings. Many of the other posters are decent and sensitive, but I was disappointed you didn’t receive more support there. I was going to post something, but they had closed the thread.

My heart breaks for you.

k.d. clement said...


Truly I admire you. I didn't have the patience, stamina, or will to go through 4 years of life draining legal torture like you did. But I did get in a year of it, enough to experience the scumminess of the legal process in all its glory. What I wouldn't have given to have had one apology or just an acknowledgement that someone had made a mistake! It is infuriating, isn't it? People in power are loathe to admit mistakes.

Good for you! The publicity and debate your case has engendered will definitely shake people up in 'ole Zion. And thats a very, very good thing.

I can't tell you the countless stories I've heard-firsthand accounts-of sexual abuse in LDS families and by ecclesiastical leaders. A friend of mine was raped by the Stake Patriarch repeatedly as a boy but when his mother went to the bishop she wasn't believed. Later the man was jailed after even more little boys were abused.

Even now, well into his forties, my friend questions his sexuality and lives a quasi homosexual lifestyle. Yet, he loves the Lord and has a testimony of the restored gospel, but these experiences have really hurt him. Jessica, there is divine justice and mercy. I told my friend something that I truly believe-the Lord will restore what the Locust has eaten.

I just wonder how you feel about "the church" now? I hope you can heal from this nightmare. I hope you can feel the Lord's sustaining hand and love for you (despite your brothers and sisters nastiness and narrow opinions).

There are many of us in the LDS church and without who love you, who admire you, and who applaud your strength. And, fyi, I am glad you have the settlement too! God's money couldn't be in more deserving hands.

I was talking about this case with my non-member husband last night and we both felt exactly the same way-we are glad that you chose to take a stand. You are in my prayers and thoughts.

God Bless,

Stephen said... continues the thread, btw.

annegb said...

I'm with you, Ned. and D-Train.

But then, I usually am.

Stephen said...

as well.

Just as a side note, I've handled domestic law cases (divorces) in the past and one of the saddest things is the willingness of people to lie.

So much happens on both sides.

Jessica Cavalieri said...

k.d., and others-

I am still a believing member of the Church, I just haven't been very active the last few years. Although I still follow, and have followed, the WofW and LofC, as well as other teachings, I haven't been to Church much lately. But, I still do everything else active Mormons do-though my personal prayers and scripture study isn't up to par.

Emotionally and psychologically, I have had a hard time reconciling what I have seen vs. what we are taught. Not so much the imperfection of people because we are taught people aren't perfect, but the treatment of myself and my family by the Church lawyers. I have a hard time with how they treated me vs. what we are taught about how to treat people. Seems the Church lawyers wanted to divide and conquer my family (both extended and immediate) and they were completely unsuccessful.

I hope to resume full activity within the next few weeks.

Stephen said...

Jessica, I wish you well.

D-Train said...

As do I as well, Jessica. I can only offer my own opinion and experience that most people in the Church don't get drunk with power, but take their callings and obligation to help their fellow man quite seriously, even if there are errors in judgment. I hope that you can have a better experience with the Church in the future and pray that you'll be treated better.

Kudos on not letting the horrid actions of some destroy your spirituality. I can only assume that the experiences that you've had have represented a significant challenge to your testimony. Hang in there!

NFlanders said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments, especially Jessica. We all wish you the best.

Also, thanks to everyone for keeping this discussion civil, even when my original post wasn't. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, thank you for your courageousness in demanding that the church actually implement humane and sensible policies. I hope that the judgment stands, that you receive a substantial award, and that my tithing dollars are included in the award. I'd rather see my tithing used to reward someone mistreated by church officials and backward policies than to be used to pay a ward's heating bills or buy a GA's new tie.

Good luck to you!