Mormon leaders accused of 'covering up' a decades-long 'epidemic' of sexual abuse and INCEST that rivals scandals in Catholic church: Victims say perpetrators are protected - but the abused are forced to forgive their attackers.
DailyMail.com has combed through reams of court documents and spoken to around a dozen church members to expose the true scale of alleged abuse. Victims claim abuse is 'rampant', with the church facing legal action over allegations it consistently hides cases from police to avoid costly lawsuits. Their stories, which span decades, claim the church has allowed abusers to operate unchallenged, with women and children made to suffer as a result.
Take... it... down!!!Mormon leaders are 'covering up' an 'epidemic' of sexual abuse that rivals scandals exposed within the Catholic church, victims have alleged to DailyMail.com.
The Utah-based religion has repeatedly protected perpetrators and punished those who speak out in a bid to protect its reputation 'at all costs', it is claimed.
Victims believe abuse is 'rampant', with Mormon families said to be suffering 'extremely high rates of incest'.
Young girls subjected to horrific abuse say they are told to 'forgive' their assailants and discouraged from reporting it to the police.
The Mormon church has been embroiled in several high profile cases in which it has been accused of covering up sexual abuse, but the true scale of the crisis has never before been exposed.
Now, DailyMail.com has combed through reams of court documents and police records and interviewed more than a dozen current and former members of the church to expose the full extent of victims' claims.
Their stories span decades of abuse in which ecclesiastical leaders are alleged to have 'maintained a pattern and practice' of hiding crimes from authorities.
Katie Medley, 35, has blasted the Mormon church for failing to take action against a doctor and ecclesiastical leader who allegedly sexually abused her and around 200 other women.
Jared and Ashley Jones have filed a bombshell lawsuit accusing the Mormon church of a 'pattern' of abuse 'cover ups' in an attempt to protect itself from costly lawsuits.
Lindsay Lyman, 45, claims the church covered up her abuse at the hands of an older boy
Lyman grew up in a Mormon family in Utah. Pictured here aged 10, when she began being abused
Lindsay Lyman (left, aged 45, right, as a young girl) claims the church covered up her abuse at the hands of an older boy in her church, who went on to rape a woman years later.
In Oregon, three women have accused the church of failing to protect them from a Mormon doctor who allegedly assaulted more than 200 female patients.
In California, the church allegedly 'fostered and encouraged' the 'silence and the cover-up' of child sexual abuse, including that of a three-year-old girl.
In Colorado, bishops are accused of perpetuating a cycle of incestual abuse within a toxic family by failing to report it to the authorities.
And in Utah, ecclesiastical leaders allegedly failed to act on reports a member of the church was abusing a young girl, leaving the perpetrator free to rape another woman in 2014.
It comes after a court in Arizona earlier this month ruled that church officials who knew that a member was sexually abusing his daughter had no duty to report the abuse to police because the information was received during a spiritual confession.
Victims who spoke to DailyMail.com said this was repeatedly used as an excuse for bishops to hide abuse from authorities, often allowing it to carry on for years.
Women claimed church culture acts as a breeding ground for abuse, pointing to the belief within Mormonism that local bishops - laymen with no pastoral training - are divinely called by God and led by spiritual revelations, meaning their authority cannot be questioned.
It is also alleged that church leaders have repeatedly brushed cases of abuse under the carpet to allow young men to complete missionary programs - a crucial 'rites of passage' trip in which Mormons are sent to spread the word of the gospel.
Kathleen Wallace, 39, who claims her abuse by a family member was kept under wraps by the church, said she believed that sexual abuse was an 'epidemic' within the church that was 'just as bad as the Catholic church, if not far worse'.
The mother-of-two added: 'I think that there's extremely high rates of incest and sexual abuse going on in Mormon homes. This kind of abuse is rampant.'
The Mormon church did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
Abused by trusted doctor
Nicole Snow, 32, grew up in a Mormon family in Wilsonville, Oregon.
There she attended church with Harvard graduate Dr David Farley, who was also an ecclesiastical leader and 'stake high counselor'.
As an esteemed community figure, Farley counted most of the women there as his patients.
Snow's mother began taking her to see him when she was aged 15 after she complained of chronic stomach pain.
But under the guise of seeking to relieve her constipation, he allegedly performed an ungloved rectal examination.
He later digitally penetrated her vagina, causing 'immense physical pain', and suggested that he 'break her hymen' to 'ensure sex was more pleasurable', Snow claims.
Between 2007 and 2009, Farley allegedly sexually abused and harassed her on at least five occasions.
The claims are contained within a civil lawsuit filed by four women, including Snow, in October 2020, which details egregious allegations of sexual assault against the once respected doctor.
Since then, more than 200 women have come forward with similar allegations of sexual abuse against Farley, according to a letter sent to the Oregon Attorney General in September last year.
The women, many of whom are Mormon, claim that Farley used his position within the community to gain their trust, before grooming and sexually abusing them.
The lawsuit was filed shortly after Farley had his license revoked by the Oregon Medical Board.
A panel of medical professionals found he forced 'numerous' young girls to undergo unnecessary pelvic examinations and photographed children's breasts and genitalia under the guise of conducting a 'puberty study'.
Nicole Snow, 32, claims she was sexually abused by fellow Mormon church member Dr David Farley, but says church leaders refuse to take action against him.
Lisa Pratt, 36, claims Farley fondled her breast during a check-up with her two-week-old son.
Farley had his license revoked by the Oregon Medical Board in 2020 after a panel of medical professionals found he sexually abused minors under the guise of a 'puberty study'
Yet three of Farley's victims, including Snow, have alleged to DailyMail.com that the Mormon church has refused to excommunicate or even hold a disciplinary hearing for Farley, despite their repeated pleas for action.
Farley retired from his Oregon practice a month before his license was revoked. But the women believe he has since moved to Idaho and then Utah, where he is still an active member of the church community, with nothing stopping him from practicing again.
'I know of children in the area he's living at right now who he is attending church with,' Snow said.
'He's still around children gaining trust in the community. He's a very dangerous man. We just want action from the church.'
Snow said she was vulnerable to abuse due to her upbringing in the church, which failed to educate her on her sexuality.
It was only after speaking to other women about their experiences with the doctor that she realized she had been abused.
One of those women was Katie Medley, who moved to Oregon in 2016.
The mother-of-four claims Farley 'recruited' her as a patient at a church function.
He went on to sexually abuse and harass her on at least 10 occasions, including 'digitally penetrating' her vagina and performing non-censual 'membrane sweeps' of her vagina, the lawsuit states.
Medley recalled one particularly 'traumatic' incident in 2019, in which she claims Farley tried to sexually stimulate her by fondling her with his ungloved hand during a pap smear.
'I just remember being in my car after and sobbing uncontrollably,' she told DailyMail.com. 'I was so confused because he had sexually stimulated me. I felt like I was going to vomit.'
Lisa Pratt, 36, also began talking to Medley about their alleged abuse at the hands of Farley.
Pratt moved to Oregon in 2015 when she was pregnant with her third child and was recommended to Farley by a friend.
She claims Farley fondled her breast during a check-up with her two-week-old son in 2016.
While Snow and Medley have both left the church, Pratt remains a member.
Pratt told DailyMail.com that while she believed the Mormon church was 'a flawed organization that likes to pretend it's not', there were still 'many good people' within it.
The Mormon church has been embroiled in several high-profile cases in which it has been accused of covering up sexual abuse over the years.
The church did report Farley to the police, but Medley says its refusal to discipline him makes 'zero sense', adding that it sent a message to women that if 'you come forward, you're not going to be protected'.
'I could cheat on my husband tomorrow and I would be excommunicated like that,' she said. 'But he can molest children and women and no one asks a Goddamn question.'
She added that the patriarchal structures within the church meant women 'are not supposed to question the men'.
'They are the ones that hold the priesthood,' she added. 'They have all the power.'
Farley's victims are now urging Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to open a criminal investigation into his conduct after a Clackamas County grand jury declined to indict him after hearing testimony from 41 witnesses.
Their appeal remains under review by the Oregon Department of Justice, a spokesman said.
DailyMail.com has contacted Farley for comment via his LinkedIn account.
The church's alleged lack of action against him stands in stark contrast to its supposed excommunication of Tim Ballard, the anti-trafficking activist whose exploits were turned into the hit film 'Sound of Freedom'.
Ballard was sued by six women last month over allegations of sexual assault.
It has been suggested that the decision to do so was driven by a desire to protect itself from legal proceedings after Ballard was said to have claimed his actions had been approved by church elders.
Medley believes Farley's case is simply not high profile enough and that a disciplinary hearing would give him the opportunity to 'run his mouth' against the church.
Tim Ballard appears to have been excommunicated by the Mormon church after seven women accused him of sexual misconduct during missions for his anti-trafficking organization
A pattern of 'cover ups'
A bombshell lawsuit filed in California in August claims the Mormon hierarchy has demonstrated a 'pattern' of behavior to protect itself from costly lawsuits.
The complaint, lodged by former lifelong Mormons Jared and Ashley Jones, accuses the church of 'covering up' and 'concealing' child sexual abuse from police, including that perpetrated against their three-year-old daughter in December last year.
Jared, 41, who claims he was also a victim of abuse as a child by a church member, told DailyMail.com that the 'culture of the Mormon church propagates abuse'.
'It's systemic,' he said. 'What they are concerned with is making sure that as many people stay in the flock as possible.
'The amount of sexual abuse that happens within the church is astounding.'
In their complaint against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, Jared and Ashley, 40, allege that local leaders failed to report the sexual abuse of their daughter to authorities when they were made aware of it by the perpetrator's father.
They allege the 12-year-old abuser was allowed to partake in church activities at which other children were present for months after leaders knew of multiple allegations against him.
Meanwhile, families were kept in the dark, it is claimed.
According to the complaint, the boy admitted the abuse to Riverside County Sheriff's Department and his father reported it to the local bishop.
But the bishop declined to also report the abuse to the authorities, as mandated by California state law, the lawsuit states.
California and more than 20 other states require clergy to report child sex abuse and neglect, but have an exemption for information gleaned during spiritual confessions.
Jared, however, argues that the abuse was reported to the church by the perpetrator's father and thus does not constitute a direct confession.
He claims it took the church 71 days to eventually make a police report - but only after Ashley made a social media post condemning their failure to do so.
The couple allege in their filing that the church's failure to report the abuse is part of a broader pattern within the church that 'ratifies the abusive conduct and perpetuates a culture of concealment while encouraging a lack of cooperation among Mormon church members with law enforcement'.
Jared, who was raised in a large Mormon family and whose father was heavily involved in the church leadership, has now withdrawn his membership in disgust.
He told DailyMail.com that the church's handling of his daughter's abuse has finally helped him process how they also failed him as a child- when he was sexually abused by an older boy within the church.
'Until they stop covering their own ass, and start taking care of the children, we are going to continue to see this pattern of abuse,' he said.
Moral arguments are irrelevant
The Jones' story echoes a similarly shocking case that unfolded in Arizona, in which church lawyers told a Mormon bishop he could not report a member of his ward who had confessed to sexually abusing his daughter due to 'clergy-penitent privilege'.
Paul Douglas Adams continued raping his daughter for seven years after he admitted to his bishop, John Herrod, that his behavior was out of control.
Adams was arrested by Homeland Security agents in 2017 with no help from the church. He killed himself in custody before he could stand trial.
A lawsuit filed by the three Adams children accused the Mormon church of negligence and conspiring to cover up child sex abuse to avoid 'costly lawsuits' and protect its reputation.
Earlier this month, a judge dismissed the complaint, ruling that officials had no duty to report the abuse.
But the case revealed that a help line established in 1995 for bishops to contact when cases of abuse are reported to them connects to a Salt Lake City law firm, Kirton McConkie.
Calls are first filtered by social workers, who determine whether the information they receive is serious enough to be passed onto church attorneys, according to sealed court records obtained by The Associated Press.
The help line is operated not within the church's Department of Family Services, but its Office of Risk Management, whose role is to protect the institution from liability in a range of circumstances.
A protocol advises those taking the calls to instruct a 'priesthood leader,' which includes bishops and stake presidents, to encourage the perpetrator, the victim, or others who know of the abuse to report it.
But it also says that those taking the calls 'should never advise a priesthood leader to report abuse. Counsel of this nature should come only from legal counsel'.
Church lawyers in the Arizona case argued that the moral arguments over whether its officials should report abuse to the police were irrelevant to the law.
'Nothing has changed in decades'
Kathleen Wallace, 39, believes her own childhood abuse case was a major contributing factor to the establishment of the help line.
She and sister Rebecca Welch, 48, claim they were both abused by a family member, but that the church withheld this from their parents and the police.
The sisters claim this allowed the abuse to continue for years.
Wallace believes her own harrowing experience tallies with more recent allegations of church 'cover ups' - and shows very little has changed in the decades in between.
Wallace and Welch were one of five siblings raised in a devout Mormon family in Colorado.
Welch, the second eldest, said she was abused aged four by a close relative, with the assaults continuing until she was 11.
Aged 15, she spoke to a church counselor about the abuse for the first time, who then arranged an appointment with the local bishop.
At the time, her abuser was out on a mission, considered a vital part of a Mormon upbringing.
Welch claims the bishop decided it would be too embarrassing to bring the perpetrator home early and it was agreed that no one was to tell the authorities or her parents about the abuse.
Kathleen Wallace claimed her childhood abuse by a family member allowed to happen after the church failed to act on reports made years earlier that he had been assaulting her older sister. Wallace, now 39, pictured second from right with her family. From left: Hunter, 16, Lee, 40, Kathleen, and Grayson, 19.
Wallace (right) with her older sister Rebecca Welch, now 48. Welch claims a church bishop told her not to inform police or her parents of the abuse she was suffering by a close relative, who went on to also abuse Wallace
'I remember the bishop saying something about arresting a returned missionary the moment he stepped off the plane and that he didn't feel like that would be a good thing for anyone,' she said.
As it was, Welch's abuser then went on to abuse her younger sister.
Wallace, now a mother-of-two, said her abuse began when she was just four years old, but it wasn't until she was 11 that she felt able to tell her parents.
Only then did the truth come out.
'It transpired that all of us had been dealing with sexual abuse and that my sister had gone for help from the bishop years prior and everyone had kept it a secret,' Wallace said.
She claims the church then took responsibility for failing to report the abuse and began to pay for mental health care for the family.
After a while, however, the church decided that the bills were getting too high and pulled the plug.
Kathleen and Rebecca's parents threatened to sue for breach of fiduciary responsibility and the matter was settled privately - Kathleen claims the church paid out $150,000.
At no point, however, did the church report the abuse to the authorities, the sisters said.
'Victims left to fend for themselves'
Cases of reoffending within the church are not uncommon.
Lindsay Lyman claims Mormon officials failed to report her abuser to the police when her family went to them for help, leaving the perpetrator free to rape another woman years later.
Lyman, 45, said she began being sexually abused by an older boy in her church in Springville, Utah, when she was around ten years old.
But she claims that when she and her mother told their bishop, he said that under no circumstances should the police be involved and that the matter would be handled internally.
Lyman, however, is unaware of what, if any, action was taken as the abuse continued for several more years until he went on a mission.
She claims her abuser was Devin Hartman, 48, who was later handed two life sentences after he was convicted of raping a 28-year-old woman in June 2014.
Devin Hartman was convicted of rape in 2015. Above:Hartman at the time of his arrest in 2014
Victims claim the Mormon church ignored earlier reports of his abuse behavior. Above: Hartman in a state Department of Corrections photo from 2016
Lindsay Lyman claims she was abused as a young girl by fellow church member Devin Hartman (pictured), but the church did nothing. Years later, he was convicted of raping another woman.
Lyman said she '100 percent' holds the church responsible for leaving him free to reoffend.
'I know my mom cared, but in the Mormon church, you follow what your bishop says, you don't go against them,' she said.
Since Hartman's conviction, Lyman says she has stopped attending church, although she is technically still a member.
'It just really angers me that the people who have been hurt are the ones that are just left to fend for themselves,' she said.
'I don't want to promote or be a part of an organization that does that.'
Lyman believes that much of the abuse within the church goes unreported, in part because victims are often told to 'forgive' their abusers.
Indeed, Mormon leaders have given a number of talks stressing the need for forgiveness in even the most heinous of circumstances, while a page on the church's website titled 'Is it possible to forgive?' cites a passage from Book of Mormon intended to help victims 'forgive those who have harmed you'.
The Mormon church has not responded to a request for comment on the victims' allegations.
But its 2010 handbook for church leaders says 'the first responsibility of the church in abuse cases is to help those who have been abused and protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse'.
It adds: 'Abuse cannot be tolerated in any form.'
Lyman, however, disagrees.
'The church and its attorneys just want to shove it under the rug and act like nothing happened,' she said.