The case of a fallen mission president: When the Mormon church promptly removed a leader who ‘deceived and victimized’ young female missionaries

Salt Lake Tribune

April 26, 2018

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Philander Knox Smartt III arrived in Puerto Rico on July 1, 2013, as an energetic 43-year-old, and expected to preside over Mormon missionaries serving in that collection of islands for three years.

Ten months later, however, Smartt was dismissed as mission president and booted from the church for unspecified misconduct with multiple young female missionaries.

The victims, all older than 18, “chose not to pursue criminal charges,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement in response to Salt Lake Tribune questions about the episode, and the Utah-based faith provided “ecclesiastical and emotional counseling” to the sister missionaries “who had been deceived and victimized.”

Hawkins noted Wednesday that “no police report was requested by the victims,” but added that “without question, these actions were reprehensible, immoral and against the laws of God and the standards of the church.”

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