A lawsuit filed on Friday May 2, 2014 is alleging that a woman was repeatedly sexually abused as a teenager by a Mormon missionary in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. The suit also claims that a church bishop and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covered up the abuse. The lawsuit was filed in Riverside County Superior Court.
According to the suit, a then 13-year-old girl was repeatedly abused by a Mormon missionary during a five month period in 1985. The lawsuit further alleges that after a church bishop became aware of the alleged abuse, the victim and her family were paid to keep quiet. The lawsuit also claims that the victim gave birth to a child in 1986 as a result of the abuse.
The lawsuit provides shocking details about the nature of the abuse and the length church officials went to cover it up. Allegedly, the missionary paid for the girl to travel to New York, where she was physically abused in an attempt to cause her to miscarry. The church bishop did not report the incident and instead attempted to have the girl leave the area and give the child to another Mormon couple.
This case highlights several important facts about sexual abuse cases. First, no defendants will be publicly named until a judge determines whether the allegations made in the lawsuit are valid. The case also demonstrates the fact that sexual abuse claims can be made years after abuse occurred. Claims must be filed within three years from the time that a victim determines that they suffer from psychological damage resulting from the abuse.
Child sexual abuse lawsuits have long plagued all types of religious organizations, as well as various secular groups. In fact, two men – ages 41 and 42 sued the Mormon church in January after they were allegedly molested by a missionary in the 1980s.