Ceremony, panel discussion aims to address child sex abuse

The Journal

April 19, 2019

By Breanna Francis

While some conversations are uncomfortable, many find that discussing sexual abuse, especially of a child, is among the hardest topics to handle.

But for Tom Stollings, one of the father’s involved in a sexual abuse lawsuit against a local Mormon church, bringing this commonly regarded “dark” topic into the light has become his life’s passion.

“It’s a very touchy subject — child sex abuse — especially in a place that you thought you could really trust the people. It’s dark, and it’s hurtful for anyone to have to deal with or hear,” Stollings said. “We’re human and this tears at everyone’s guts but its one of those things that needs to be talked about because that’s the only way we are ever going to put a stop to it.”

Stollings, as well as five other families in Martinsburg, were a part of a sexual abuse lawsuit against a Mormon Church in the area in which Stollings said several local children were abused by a member of the church.

The case, which began in 2012 and ended in August of 2018, after rotating between three judges and two trips to the West Virginia Supreme Court, began with 19 kids but ended with only nine after what Stollings said was stress, pressure and controversy placed on the families by the church and the coverage of the long, drawn out case.

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