Deep Pockets and Abuse Cases

Looking for a “Deep Pocket”? The Alleged LDS Indian Student Placement Program Navajo Abuse Case

By Ken K. Gourdin

Attorneys for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are moving to quash a subpoena of President Thomas S. Monson in the case of four Navajos alleging abuse that reportedly occurred while the plaintiffs participated in the Church’s since-discontinued Indian Student Placement Program.

I think it’s a reach (to say the least!) to say that President Monson would have any direct evidence having any bearing on these individual cases, so I would bet (if I were a betting man) that the subpoena will be quashed. And of course, subpoenaing Bishop Jones or President Smith or Brother Anderson, who would have more direct information regarding any alleged abuse, isn’t likely to garner nearly the publicity that subpoenaing President Monson is, which, I suspect, if we were to corner plaintiffs’ attorneys and demand an answer, is rather the point. My comment, as the title to this post indicates, is about the case more generally.

See Salt Lake Tribune coverage here (this and all other links accessed July 23, 2016):

http://www.sltrib.com/news/4147918-155/mormon-church-moves-to-quash-subpoena.

I commented:

This action will play out in court, obviously, but according to the article, the alleged abuse happened in “the 60s, 70s, and 80s.” Yes, as though it needed to be said, sexual abuse is reprehensible. Yes, accepting, arguendo, that it actually occurred, as though it needed to be said, anyone in a position to stop it should have taken action to do so. The thing is, that includes the natural parents of these children.

Let’s suppose that at least one plaintiff is representative of the alleged abuse from each decade. You’re telling me that if each (or if any) of them had told their parents, “Mommy and Daddy, I don’t want to go live with the Joneses nechilxt school year. They … do things to me,” no one was curious enough to ask any questions for the length of their participation in the program? Not only were no parents curious enough, no teachers were, no school counselors were, no local religious leaders were, no foster siblings were, no friends were … nobody was.

Yes, sexual abuse is horrible, and it should be severely dealt with when well-founded accusations come to light, no denying that. But the thing is, proponents of the Gigantic Conspiracy of Silence seem to be wrong at least as often as they are right, and innocent people’s lives have been ruined as a result. (See, e.g., the following address:

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mcmartin/mcmartinaccount.html).

“But we don’t care about them, Ken,” you say, “because they’re adults. We care about the children!” Mmm-kay. But if I were an attorney representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this matter, and if it were actually to get to trial (a big “if,” that), I would do my level best during voir dire to see to it that members of the jury hearing the case are impervious to such bare appeals to pity and to emotion as that.

Yes, I just spoke up on favor of the Big, Bad, Mean, Evil [Insert-Pejorative-of-Choice-Here] LD$, Inc. But that’s really a central point, too, isn’t it? Granting, arguendo, that the abuse occurred, no one else who could have stopped it has such deep pockets, so no one else is worth going after (quite literally), even though such parties bear much more direct responsibility for anything that occurred, right?

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Mormon Response to Orlando Nightclub Shooting

Mormon Response to Orlando Nightclub Shooting

By Ken K. Gourdin

In response to a post at Times and Seasons (see here, last accessed July 16, 2016: http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2016/06/wherefore-should-not-the-heavens-weep/) questioning whether reaction among some (many?) Mormons to the recent mass shooting at the Orlando night club might have included some “they-got-what-they-deserved” schadenfreude, I responded:

Re: “Worse” sins and “worse” consequences

Yes, in a way, there is a hierarchy of sins, e.g., consequences of not doing one’s home teaching =/= consequences of murder (I hope! ;-D Still, perhaps someone is adept enough at manipulating logic that s/he can do a sort of “six degrees of separation” thing which shows that, actually, the two, and their consequences, are equivalent.) On the other hand, sin is sin in that all sin separates us from God, no matter what the sin.

I love the LDS production, “The Prodigal Son” (1992). (Yeah, I know: sappy, campy, dated, whatever, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for sap, and camp, and datedness, and whatever!) I especially like the scene in which Jim’s real problem is laid bare. Speaking of Tom, he tells Joanne, “There’s a big difference between what he’s done and anything I might’ve done.” And she replies, “The difference I see is that one of you is trying to repent and one of you isn’t.” He asks, “Since when have I become the big sinner?” And she replies, “The minute that you let your pride convince you that you’re better than somebody else.”

Then, she goes on to say, “Just like cocaine and alcohol almost destroyed your brother, jealousy and bitterness are trying to destroy you. You’ve got to realize that it’s not just your brother with the ‘big sins’ that needs Jesus Christ. You need him just as desperately as any of the rest of us do. If you think you can overcome this bitterness by yourself, you’re just fooling yourself. Tom couldn’t overcome his problems alone, and you can’t, and I can’t. Nobody can. The bottom line is, nobody can make it halfway through this life or into the next without the Savior.”

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a lot of us have Jim’s attitude when it comes to homosexual behavior because we’ve let our pride convince us that we’re better than those who have that particular temptation. But let’s face it: if all sin had the “ick factor” that homosexual behavior does for many of us, it’d be a lot easier to keep the commandments. As much as I think homosexual behavior is a sin, I can’t demand that someone accept my paradigm. Anyone who does share my paradigm and who has that particular struggle has, in some respects, almost a uniquely tough row to hoe, so it’s easy for me to say, “Well, everyone should keep the commandments.” And while I think people should be ready to defend the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of us seem quite eager to impart “Living Water” to others we believe desperately need it … through a fire hose set at full blast.

Say not, “Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” Rather, say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And let he that is without sin cast the first stone.

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Do They Know How Much You Care?

On Home Teaching, Covert Information Gathering, Crappy Elders Quorums, Crappy Priesthood Lessons, “Checking a Box” on the “Exaltation Checklist,” Ward Council Gossip, Stewardship, Being Shepherded and Being a Shepherd, Praying for Those Who Desperately Need It, and Having Charity

Ken K. Gourdin

One of my fellow posters at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion opined on his Crappy Elders Quorum, its Crappy Lessons, his Crappy Ward, his Crappy Ward Leadership, and his Crappy Ward Council. (Other than those things, which according to him, leave a teensy, weensy, itty, bitty little bit to be desired, his Ward is Great!

A word of explanation: in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Ward is a congregation that is defined by geographic boundaries which is presided over by a lay pastor called a Bishop. One of the offices in the Church’s lay Priesthood is that of Elder, and Elders are organized into groups known as Quorums. Exaltation is being welcomed back into the open arms of the Savior once one’s mortal sojourn is complete, one duty of the Priesthood is to conduct regular (usually monthly) visits to specific members of the Ward, in part in order to check on their welfare and to report to leadership any needs that aren’t being met, and lay people are asked to fill positions in the Church such as Elders Quorum President and so on.

In part, he said:

I find it to be a major invasion of privacy for people to invite themselves into my home, pretend to care about me, all the while not-so-covertly gathering information that they can take back to the [Elders Quorum President] which may ultimately find its way to everybody at Ward Council. Meanwhile they get to literally check the box and thus ensure they are one step closer to salvation.

I responded:

Crikey (RIP, Steve Irwin ), I’d hate Home Teaching and Elders Quorum, too, if that’s the way I felt about them. One can have 100% Home Teaching every month for however long one’s been assigned to do it and still not be any closer to salvation/exaltation. As for covert information gathering, if you and your family honestly don’t need any help, I’d say that’s great: One fewer thing for the Bishop and the Elders Quorum President to worry about (and having spent several years between the two assignments at the elbow of a Bishop and an Elders Quorum President, respectively, I’d say that the fewer things they have to worry about, the better.)

As for any such issues  being discussed in Ward Council, that might be a no-win proposition: Half the families in the Ward are upset that the Bishop doesn’t know about their issues (because their Home Teachers, who feel the same way you do about Home Teaching, haven’t troubled themselves to do it so that they can find out about those issues) and the other half of the families in the Ward are upset that the Bishop does know about their issues but can’t do anything about them unless he does it himself, since, according to you, he’s not supposed to bring them up in Ward Council.   If you were the only one in your Ward who felt that, “If I have a problem, I simply want to be able to go to the Bishop and have him resolve it without involving anyone else,” I suppose that wouldn’t be a problem: the problem arises because a sizable minority to a majority of the members of your Ward feel the same way. Jethro told Moses that wasn’t a good approach, and if it wasn’t a good approach 3,000 years ago, that hasn’t changed.

Home Teaching is your chance to be a Shepherd. If you felt the way the Good Shepherd feels about the rams, and ewes, and lambs in His flock (the ones who are supposed to be in your flock, too, because He has asked you to look after them), would you feel the way you do about Home Teaching?   How did the Savior respond when the lawyer asked him, “Who is my neighbor?”   If you care  for your Brothers in your Quorum the way the Good Samaritan cared for the injured Jew (and if you felt that they care the same way for you) would that change your attitude and approach to being a member of the Quorum? And  being  Home Taught is your chance to be a sheep, though, as I said, if you don’t need any help, and if you call your bishop and say, “Hi, Bishop?   This is Brother Jones.   I just called to tell you that my family and I don’t need any help,” I guarantee you, there will be joy and rejoicing in the Bishop’s household over that phone call. And even if you’re right that everyone else simply is “going through the motions,” (though I’d be loathe to reach such a conclusion myself, since it would require me to know someone else’s [everyone  elses!] heart) does that mean you have to, as well, or can you be “the little leaven” that leaveneth the whole lump”?

As for the quality of the manuals, of the lessons, and of the instructors, I agree: they can leave something to be desired. But if I’m entirely dependent upon a manual and/or on an instructor to give me Living Water, can I change my approach to that, as well? Who’s supposed to be teaching me, a manual, an instructor, or the Holy Spirit? And if I have the last of those three assets, even if I don’t see the first two of those things particularly as assets, would those first two things matter so much?

Even if you’re absolutely right that Home Teaching, the manuals, the instructors, the leadership, and everyone else in the Quorum or Ward absolutely sucks, if nothing else, that’s an excellent opportunity for you to develop charity: You can and should pray for your crappy instructor, your crappy Quorum members, your crappy Elders Quorum presidency, and so forth. Believe me, they need your prayers, whether they realize it or not: And I’ve never met a Bishop, and I’ve rarely met an Elder’s Quorum President or an Elder’s Quorum instructor who doesn’t realize how much he needs your prayers; they appreciate those prayers. I know I have, and I would. Beyond that, the only thing you can change is you.

I wish you well.

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Do Police Body Cams Have Any Downsides?

Do Police Body Cams Have Any Downsides?

By Ken K. Gourdin

Do police body cams have any downsides? They increase officers’ accountability to the public they serve, and they protect officers, their agencies, and their municipalities from liability based on false accusations, yes. But, as Salt Lake City Deseret News editorial columnist Jay Evensen points out, in some cases, they may be a double-edged-sword. See Mr. Evensen’s piece here (last accessed July 14, 2016):

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865657913/Do-police-body-cams-help-or-hinder-justice.html?s_cid=comment-email-a

A couple of commenters felt misled by the headline placed above Mr. Evensen’s piece, and I responded (excerpts of what the commenters wrote appear in quotation marks):

The cameras tell a story, but that is also exactly what happens in the real world with investigators, law enforcement, and prosecutors. They are telling a story – a highly biased one – as their objective is arrests, convictions, and time served; they are measured by their superiors and in their personal careers by these benchmarks.”

To the contrary, while a contrary view may, at times and in individual cases, reflect an ideal more than it reflects reality, the primary duty of police and prosecutors is not reflected in the number of arrests and convictions, or in the amount of time served: their primary duty is to do justice. If justice is best served by arresting someone, by prosecuting him, and by incarcerating him, so be it. However, if justice is best served by employing other remedies, then that is what should be done. Such measures as community- and problem-oriented policing, Crisis Intervention Training, and drug and mental health courts recognize this.

I’m not sure I understand; the headline says cameras can hinder justice, but the entire article only lists the multiple ways they help. I can’t see any possible scenario where a video recording of what went on can be a bad thing to have.”

Then perhaps you need to reread Mr. Evensen’s piece: “… [D]ramatic as they may be, such videos seldom tell the whole story. … Like it or not, we live in a time when virtually any incident can be recorded and widely disseminated. The result is a greater level of accountability, but it also seems to be less patience for the rules and procedures that justice requires.”

Also, one point Mr. Evensen doesn’t mention is that once it is in the hands of a third party (even, sometimes, a news organization) with an agenda, that video may be selectively edited to tell even less of the whole story.

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On the Passing of Sen. Bob Bennett

On The Passing of Senator Bob Bennett

By Ken K. Gourdin

Utah recently lost a political giant and, more than that, a true gentleman and a very decent human being in former Senator Robert F. “Bob” Bennett. Mr. Bennett was unceremoniously kicked to the curb by Utah’s Goofy Old Party (and I apply that appellation as someone who leans conservative on social and fiscal issues) for daring to be (Gasp! ) bipartisan and attempting to reach across the aisle to actually get something consequential done in Washington.

As I have noted elsewhere on the blog, a similar fate befell former Utah Governor Olene Walker after she finished Governor Mike Leavitt’s final term when Mr. Leavitt was appointed Director of the Environmental Protection Agency and, later, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the administration of the younger President Bush. For my comments about Governor Walker and her treatment at the hands of the Goofy Old Party, see here (this and all other links accessed July 13, 2016:

https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/olene-walker-for-president/.

Salt Lake Tribune religion reporter (and Bob Bennett’s niece) Peggy Fletcher Stack published reminiscences about her uncle after his passing. For Ms. Stack’s piece, see here:

http://www.sltrib.com/news/3856302-155/tribune-religion-reporter-why-i-looked.

I commented:

Ms. Stack:

Thank you for your reminiscences. Human interest is one of my favorite genres as a freelance journalist and writer, and you do it superbly here. Thank you for your courage to be vulnerable, which adds all the more to this piece. Your uncle’s treatment at the hands of the Goofy Old Party for daring to be (Gasp!) bipartisan was deplorable (and I say that as someone who leans conservative socially and fiscally). I have enormous respect for Bob Bennett, especially for the principled conviction that led him prioritize doing what’s right over politics.

Sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle.

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Repossession Agent Charged With Manslaughter

Repossession Agent Charged with Manslaughter After Allegedly Causing Crash that Killed Woman

By Ken K. Gourdin

A repossession agent who pursued a woman at high speeds through city streets after she drove away in the vehicle the agent was trying to repossess, and who then forced her off the road and into a fatal collision has been charged with manslaughter. See coverage in The Salt Lake Tribune here (last accessed July 12, 2016):

http://www.sltrib.com/home/3900747-155/pleasant-grove-woman-fleeing-repo-man-dies.

I commented:

I doubt the pursuit policies even of most law enforcement agencies wouldn’t have been violated under circumstances such as the ones under which this pursuit occurred. Does this mean that we’re giving repossession agents more power or latitude than we give even to law enforcement? (I realize the law gives, e.g., bail enforcement agents more latitude than it does to law enforcement to, e.g., pursue fugitives across state lines, but that is a separate issue, since nothing I’ve seen indicates this woman was a violent felon, as many bail jumpers are.) If we are giving repossession agents more power than we give law enforcement, why are we doing that? And the law only allows use of deadly force in response to a threat of death or of imminent, serious bodily injury against one’s person and not to prevent, or to respond to, the theft or unlawful possession of mere property. Yes, based on the currently-known facts, what the woman did was wrong, but that certainly doesn’t justify an “anything-goes” posture when it comes to responding to that wrongdoing.

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This Just in, From the “Slightly Spooky” Department

211 in progress at the BofA, Laurel Canyon, north of Kittridge”

By Ken K. Gourdin

This just in, from the “Slightly Spooky” department. I work for a contractor that contracts with automakers to locate customers’ desired destinations and download them directly to customers’ GPS units so as to spare customers the distraction of entering addresses manually (and, thereby, to increase the safety of the motoring public).

One of my customers requested an address on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood, California. As it happens, a Bank of America (BofA) on Laurel Canyon was the scene of one of the most notorious attempted bank robberies in the annals of American crime. (“211” is the section of the California Penal Code, which is also used by dispatchers and officers to refer to the crime over the radio.)

Emil Matasareanu and his confederate, Larry Phillips, had robbed several other banks in Southern California and elsewhere before targeting that particular BofA on February 28, 1997. Matasareanu and Phillips had planned meticulously, fashioning full body armor that, largely, was impervious to the level of weaponry carried by most officers at the time, bringing several high-capacity, high-powered firearms, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.

While, miraculously, no one except Matasareanu and Phillips lost their lives, several officers and civilians were wounded in what became known as the North Hollywood Shootout, as officers and the robbers exchanged thousands of rounds of gunfire. Driven by little more than what I freely admit is a morbid sense of curiosity, I wanted to see how close the Laurel Canyon address the customer requested is to the scene of perhaps the most infamous bank robbery in American history.

Doubting it was close, since more than a few streets in Los Angeles city and county, respectively, are miles upon miles long, before I dispositioned the call after downloading the customer’s desired destination to his GPS unit, and knowing that the address given multiple times by dispatchers to responding units is “Laurel Canyon, north of Kittridge,” I entered that intersection—”Laurel Canyon Blvd. @ Kittridge”—into the Destination Assist program.

The Destination Assist program’s way of telling me, “I think I’ve located the address you want” is to place a red dot that looks like a push-pin at the address in question. When I entered “Laurel Canyon Blvd. @ Kittridge,” the program placed the red push-pin just a few blocks south of the address the customer had requested.

As I said, “Slightly spooky.”

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