Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LDS Bishop Amado Rojas Still To Be Prosecuted In Provo, Utah For Failing To Report Child Abuse Even Though The Abuse Charges Were Dropped

In August 2011, a 13-year-old girl reportedly told her bishop, Amado Rojas, that she was groped at a church function. According to the Provo Daily Herald, the girl and her alleged assailant, Jose Ortega, both attended a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints children's party. After a water fight at the party, the girl claimed that Ortega grabbed and groped her. But the girl did not report the incident to Bishop Rojas until six weeks later, and because she was with three of her friends at the time, he told her to talk with her parents and come back another time. He did not report the incident to police because he was still waiting for her to come back when it became a police matter through a separate source.

Nevertheless, by law, Rojas was required to tell police, and he failed to do so.

Now, although Provo prosecutors dropped the charges against Ortega on November 14th because another witness came forward and suggested that the contact was an accident, they still intend to charge Rojas with one misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse. Provo police Sgt. Matthew Siufanua explained that it's the job of investigators and prosecutors to decide if the claims are valid, and that someone can still go to jail for not reporting abuse even if the abuse claims eventually prove to be false.

It is quite likely that Provo prosecutors will come to their senses in a few days, realize how utterly ludicrous this case is, and drop the charges against Bishop Rojas altogether. If there is no abuse, than how can one logically prosecute someone for not reporting abuse? If prosecutors do not drop the charges, then I hope Bishop Rojas will force a jury trial, and that the jury will be sensible enough to refuse to find him guilty. Jury nullification would clearly be in order here; the Fully Informed Jury Association website provides more information on when it should be used.

Update November 21st: Provo prosecutors filed a single Class B misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse in Provo Justice Court on November 18th. Rojas’ defense attorney, Mike Esplin, said it wasn’t his client's intent to try and cover up any sexual abuse and there’s no evidence he did that.

Another LDS blogger, Michael Crook, originally reported having checked a list of all LDS wards in Provo and did not find Amado Rojas' name listed, but he has since taken down his blog, and media sources still refer to Rojas as a bishop. The LDS Church won't take action against a member's membership simply because of an arrest, but they can release the member from any calling holding authority over a congregation or over youth.

Most commenters to the KSL story agree that this is ludicrous; Superdad11 seems to understand what's going on:

superdad11 posted November 15th 5:50 P.M:
My ex falsely accused me of child abuse in my divorce after I asked for custody of my kids. My bishop had to report it, so did the teachers, the therapists and everyone else she talked to. As baseless as the allegations were, because of the required reporting laws, I had no contact with my kids for 9 months while an inept and ridiculously expensive investigative process unfolded over the next 4 years.

I have one thing to say to people who report false abuse allegations. STOP! The problem you will create for that person will be just as bad as actual abuse. Remember what happened in Salem a few centuries ago? Abuse allegations are a modern day witch hunt and innocent people are still burned at the stake. If it can happen to a custody seeking Dad, and a well intentioned bishop, it can happen to YOU!

Let's fight real child abuse with every extent of the law. Punish the perps and protect the victims. Report allegations, but please be judicious! The legal and investigative process you are sending that person to is like a human paper shredder. Their [lives], reputation and relationships are going to be completely ripped into unrecognizable pieces that will never be put completely back together, just like the real abuse victims an offender creates.

The Salem witch hunt analogy is on target. Pedophilia hysteria is slowly transforming America into a virtual prison. When sex offenders are released from prison, their troubles are just beginning; they're placed on a sex offender registry, have residency limits imposed upon them, and are frequently barred from internet access. Then we wonder why some of them end up sleeping under bridges and can't get jobs. Now we're sucking innocent, uninformed, but well-intentioned people like Bishop Rojas into the sex offender vortex. Worse yet, many ignorant flag-waving Americans are cheering this on. Pedophilia is a genuinely repulsive act, but we must get back to punishing only the guilty, and we must give them the hope that someday they can earn re-entry into civil society. If we're unwilling to do that, it would be more humane just to leave pedos in prison until we can figure out how to help them consistently curb their urges.


Anonymous said...

Michael Crook is a troll. Please do not link to his crappy blog, it's attention he seeks more than anything. Google his name and see for yourself what he's all about. Mike is a disgusting human being; utterly insincere, just looking to upset and annoy anyone he can to occupy his time.

Jack Mormon said...

I will retain the link to Crook's blog for the time being; however, I am growing concerned about the direction his discourse is taking. I particularly disagree with his contention that rape is not a crime.