"Salt Lake Temple, Utah" by Entheta / CC BY 2.5

Bisbee man confesses he’s molesting his daughter. Church tells bishop not to report abuse to authorities

Apr 22, 2020

By Mary Jo Pitzl

When a Bisbee man told his Mormon bishop he was sexually abusing his own 5-year-old daughter, the bishop provided counseling. He involved the man’s wife in the sessions, apparently hoping that knowledge of her husband’s activities would prompt her to keep their children safe.

What the bishop didn’t do was report the abuse to police. He didn’t have to. Although Arizona law classifies clergy, as well as many others, as mandatory reporters of child abuse, there is an exception for clergy to not report if they believe it is “reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.”

The bishop’s counseling sessions apparently had little effect. The man continued to molest his daughter, and later, after her birth in 2015, his infant daughter. He made videos of the encounters and posted them on pornographic websites, which were eventually discovered by Interpol, reported to his employer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and led to criminal charges.

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