For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call this boy ‘Adam.’
His story is #4 on ProtectEveryChild.com and #1054 on ProtectLDSChildren.org. During my correspondence with Adam, he gave me his permission to publish it here.
First, I want to thank the 1,067 victims who have shared their stories of abuse. You made it safe for this man to write and share his story.
When I first read Adam’s narrative, my shock quickly turned to anger and sadness. It’s a mixture of emotions that I have become very familiar with. The anger drives me to fight my damnedest to eradicate all practices that facilitate this horror. The sadness draws my empathy to the surface.
I asked myself this question, ‘How much grooming did it take before the bishop felt safe enough to do what he did to this child?”
Tears come as I write this. I am going to climb mountain after mountain after mountain, literally and figuratively, to stop more stories like Adam’s from being written in the heart of a child again. Please, please join me.
**Strong Trigger Warning**
**Disturbingly graphic sexual story below.
**DO NOT READ if you could be re-victimized
**I read the story because I wanted to understand what our children can face all alone with a Mormon bishop.
When I was age 11-15, I had different experiences with different bishops. I have never had the courage to say anything, and I also have never had a place where I can feel safe to talk about it. These men are part of my family’s community still to this day, and the encounters were so long ago (I am now 24) that is just doesn’t seem like it will even help to approach them.
My first bishop was a very jovial and traditional Mormon bishop (he told pioneer tales and frequently called up youth to recognize them for their valiant examples of faith in sacrament meeting).
I had an instance where I had confided in my bishop about seeing a pornographic picture and how it was hard to get it out of my head. He kept asking me how the picture made me feel, even though I told him it made me feel yucky and scared. When he obsessed over this I assumed that he was trying to fish out of me some secret evil thought that I thought in order for him to help me repent.
Even though we had an opening prayer, he stopped the meeting and said that we needed to pray. He asked me to pray and to ask God to make me feel the same feelings I felt when I looked at the photo so that I could remember them and repent. When I opened my eyes mid prayer, I he apparently had scooted his office chair in front of me, and he had his legs spread with an obvious erection just a foot away from me. Most terrifying, his eyes were open while mine were closed, and he was smiling. After the meeting concluded we both stood up, and he shook my hand. Now that he was standing his pants were loose enough for the erect penis to be literally pointed right at me. I kept repenting for even noticing it and it made me feel even more perverted, like it was a test
The second encounter has brought me immeasurable sorrow and still as I am typing this makes my stomach feel like its in ropes. I was 15. This time it was a different bishop. He later on became a member of my stake presidency and was known for his strong connection to the youth and his tenor voice as he sang in the choir. I was entering his office because I had “heavy petted” a girl in my high school consensually, but I felt grief stricken by it.
He told me that I could not fully repent unless I saw him and told him the details of the petting. Instead of asking how long and things he started asking me details that at the time I thought were part of the process (I thought I was supposed to feel humiliated, and conflated that with godly sorrow). His first humiliating question was “Did your hands smell differently?” I told him that I din’t know. He assured me “I know its embarrassing but I want you to know that as a judge in Israel the Lord knows your thoughts, and withholding details will disqualify you for the atonement.”
I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t smell my hands. He then asked me if “they smelled like tuna, and asked me if I sucked it off of my fingers, or asked her to suck it off of my fingers.” I told him neither. He seemed irritated but went on to ask me to describe the girl’s anus. I had never went near that area. He told me that I needed to tell him everything.
After about 20 awkward minutes of him projecting his fantasies, he asked me to read in the scriptures. We read about the people looking at the snake on the stick and how it healed them. I don’t remember what part of the bible it was. But he told me that I must never tell anybody but that the lord was going to give me a special opportunity because “He loved me and that I was favored among my peers, and destined for great trust.” He then gave me a blessing with the chair in the center of the room.
As he was giving it, and his hands were on my head, I remember feeling on of his hands leave my head, and then return. On the back of my head I could feel something warm poking me. I didn’t realize, but he had pulled his penis out, and it was touching my head. I remember my hairs all standing on end as in the blessing he said “The Lord now commands you, Brother _______ to look and be healed, as the faithful in ancient times,.” And that “this opportunity was sacred, and that others had not the faith as I did, and would not receive this opportunity.” When he said amen, I quickly got up and turned around to quickly shake his hand, but he swiveled around fast enough to slap me in the face with his erect penis. It didn’t hurt, but I remembered that I didn’t know how to react and said “oh woah I’m sorry!”
I wanted to weep or to just leave the bishops office, but he started bombarding me with compliments and “revelation that the lord gave him of my valiance.” He told me that if I look at “what the Lord has provided” that his priesthood keys would “discharge a blessing of forgiveness.” (Looking back I feel as though he must have planned to ejaculate, but it never happened.) After looking at his erect penis (I can still fully visualize it in my memory) I remember he told me that the Lord was lifting my burdens. He then situated a bag of starburst over his penis, and asked me if I would like one. He had pulled open a hole to insert his penis and was wanting me to reach inside. I declined and said that I am “not hungry” an he protested that I love starburst (He had given them to all of the youth before and I loved the pink ones.) I remembered he stood up, and let go of the bag of candy, and it spilled out on the floor but the bag was still on his erect penis. He then sat down, and we had a closing prayer. I DISTINCTLY remember him asking me to pray, and to include asking BOTH of us for forgiveness for the “many sins” that “the Lord showed unto us” that day.
I have gone to therapy and have declined giving them incriminating details. However, the process has helped me to feel like I am not guilty even though I still feel like its my fault to this day.
My friend Adam, it was never your fault. Your story will help fuel the drive to protect children of the future. For that, I am grateful.
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+Register for the Children’s March on Oct 5th in Salt Lake City.
Together, we are going to save future children from the horrors of child sex abuse.