Man says Mormon church threatened expulsion for abuse report

January 14, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona man is claiming he was sexually abused as a Boy Scout and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints threatened ex-communication when he tried to report it 45 years ago.

Attorneys for the man announced a lawsuit Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix against the church, the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a scoutmaster, a scout and church leader and Bishop Floyd Dean Davis.

“The level of negligence in our plaintiff’s life is nothing other than tragic, and we are committed to securing justice on his behalf,” Stephan D. Blandin, of Romanucci & Blandin law firm, said in a statement.

It’s one of several that were filed before the start of the year, when a window to pursue litigation for some victims of childhood sexual abuse in Arizona was to close. The state joined several others in extending the rights of now-adult victims to sue their alleged assailants and any churches, youth groups or other institutions that turned a blind eye at the time of the abuse.

In the legal complaint, the victim says the abuse started in 1973 when he was 11 years old. His scoutmaster made “unpermitted sexual contact.” Then in 1974, when the victim was between 12 and 13, a scout leader and church official also made unwanted sexual contact.

When he was 15, the victim said he told Davis about the abuse. According to him, the bishop took no action to remove either man from his role or notify others.

Davis then allegedly told the victim he would be ex-communicated if he told anyone outside the church about the allegations.

The victim says the abuse last for four years. His attorneys are asking for a jury to award general and punitive damages that cover pain and suffering.

Church spokesman Sam Penrod declined to comment. He pointed to a previous statement the church made about similar lawsuits last month, declaring the faith has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind.

The faith known widely as the Mormon church was the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts of America troops and its greatest ally until the Utah-based faith ended the partnership on Jan. 1, 2020, and pulled out more than 400,000 young people.

The split between the two entities ended a nearly century-old relationship brought together by shared values that diverged in recent years.