*This episode discusses the topic of sexual abuse, and in particular, the recent sexual abuse case in Arizona that was covered by the Associated Press and widely shared and discussed in mainstream/social media. Please use discretion in determining whether or not this is a suitable episode for you or for anyone listening in.*
As most of you know, in August of this year, the AP released an article that chronicled a case of sexual abuse, perpetrated by a member of the Church and, in at least in one instance in 2011, disclosed by the perpetrator to a bishop. The abuse continued for many years, with legal authorities only finding out — through other channels — and arresting the perpetrator in 2017.
When the article came out, we were, of course, disturbed and upset. We knew that we’d want to address the topic somehow, but didn’t want it to be a “hot take.” We decided to wait until we felt we had something truly valuable to add to the conversation, and when we were introduced to our guest, Kate Taylor Lauck, we knew that she would do just that.
Kate is a remarkable person and an investigative attorney who specializes in child abuse. She holds a master’s degree in national security strategies from the U.S. Naval War College and graduated cum laude from Georgetown Law in 2017. She’s worked on the Church’s help line as an attorney at Kirton McConkie and is also, herself, a survivor of sexual abuse.
In the conversation with Kate, we talked through some of the AP article itself, but spent quite a bit of time covering the help line and its processes. She shared with us what it was like to work there, and what she felt the driving motivation was on her team at Kirton McConkie, and at the Church broadly, when it comes to abuse. Kate also shared incredibly helpful information with us about what we can do, as Church and community members, to help prevent abuse.
Though of course we’re unable to adjudicate the details of the Arizona case — and we do think that it’s a tragedy that abuse was allowed to go on for many years when it didn’t need to — we felt it was important to address article’s implicit claims: that the Church’s help line’s primary purpose is to protect the Church against liability, regardless of what happens to victims.
It’s never been Faith Matters’ objective to participate in apologetics — we’ve always believed that the truth, regardless of how hard it may be to hear, is the key to finding healing and peace. That said, we believe few people could address this as well as Kate could. We’ve found her to be incredibly courageous and honest, and we’re proud to call her a friend.
We know that as with any topic of this importance and difficulty, every word and sentence we say has the potential to hurt someone, and we’re sure that we didn’t do this perfectly. As we’ve done in the past, we’re asking for grace and the benefit of the doubt. More than anything, we hope that this effort can further good faith efforts of everyone — Church members, Church leaders, and other members of our communities, to help prevent the tragedy of child sexual abuse.