Church aware of child sex abuse, made no reports

KVOA-TV [Tucson AZ]

August 20, 2021

By Lupita Murillo

About eight months ago, the Digging Deeper team told you the story about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in Bisbee, and how they were aware of child sex abuse and did not report it to authorities.

It involved a Border Patrol agent and his wife.

This is an amended complaint to the original civil lawsuit filed in Cochise County. The original complaint detailed how three children were sexually and emotionally abused.

The amended complaint alleges various church leaders conspired to conceal the sexual abuse.

“I think that the LDS church has a cult of secrecy surrounding sex abuse. And a cult of secrecy preventing their clergy from reporting sex abuse of children,” Lynne Cadigan, the plaintiff’s attorney said.

Lynne Cadigan represents the children who claim they were physically and sexually abused by their father Paul Adams.

Authorities learned about the abuse when a video showing Adams having sex with his young daughter surfaced in New Zealand in 2017.

Adams was arrested that same year at the border patrol station where he worked he committed suicide ten months later.

In 2018 his wife Leizza plead no contest to two counts of child abuse endangerment.

She’s currently on probation after serving two years in prison.

Court documents obtained News 4 Tucson show the clergy was aware of the abuse prior to that and did not report it to law enforcement.

“The church constantly says it’s against the law to report abuse learned through a confession. That is a myth,” Cadigan said.

News 4 Tucson reached out to the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

The attorney who represents the church sent us this statement:

“The assertions against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contained in the motion filed by plaintiffs’ counsel are baseless and totally unfounded. The abuse that occurred was tragic, but the scurrilous attack against the church by plaintiffs’ counsel is both inaccurate and unwarranted.”

Bill Maledon, Attorney representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

In our previous stories, the Church officials have acknowledged the bishop had limited knowledge of the abuse through the father’s confession and urged the family of Paul Adams to report the abuse or give him consent to do so they refused.

The church excommunicated Paul Adams in 2013.

A hearing on the amended motion is scheduled for next spring.

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.