INTERCEPTED

Mormon Church Accused of Shielding Itself From Sex-Abuse Claims With Victims Hotline: Report

Court documents have revealed that calls from the Mormon Church’s 24-hour helpline, used by church officials to report suspected abuse, are being transferred to a law firm that defends the church in abuse-related lawsuits, VICE News reports. Helpline calls are first answered inside the Salt Lake City offices of a Mormon Church-sponsored agency known as LDS Family Services, where staffers are then instructed to transfer callers to the law firm Kirton McConkie. The law firm is technically independent from the church, but has legally advised and defended them for decades. The Mormon Church is Kirton McConkie’s largest client. Directing abuse-related calls to church lawyers allows the church to classify them as “attorney-client” communications, protecting them from disclosure in lawsuits and other forums, according to legal experts. Mormon leaders have long insisted that the helpline’s sole purpose is to advise church officials about compliance with local abuse-reporting laws; but court documents reviewed by VICE News, suggests that in reality, the system serves to shield the church from potential lawsuits.