At 12 Years Old, She Says She Was Raped Repeatedly by a Man Working for the LDS Church Indian Student Placement Program. Today, She’s Still Fighting for Change.
By Connor Richards
Salt Lake Tribune
October 1, 2018
Bizhinlth baa says she was repeatedly raped by her foster father in a small town in Utah’s Cache County.
Then 12 years old, the Navajo girl knew that what her foster father was doing to her “three or four times a week” wasn’t right, but when she reached out for help to a local leader of the women’s Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baa says, she was met with disbelief. Worse, she was scolded and slapped.
“Do not tell anybody,” she recounts being warned. “And you think I had fear? Oh, I had fear. You can’t believe the fear I had.” And so the abuse continued throughout that school year, until the next May, she says, when she was returned home to the Navajo Nation.
“My life was ripped apart, and to me, this all happened as if it was yesterday,” baa, now 65, told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The only remaining plaintiff from among more than a dozen who filed sex-abuse complaints against the LDS Church involving its long-abandoned Indian Student Placement Program, she spoke on condition the newspaper identify her only by her Navajo name.
Nine other plaintiffs settled with the church in August, said attorney Craig Vernon, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who along with Billy Keeler, of Gallup, N.M., represented the former foster children. Three other cases were settled in mediation last year. All signed nondisclosure agreements.
The LDS Church declined requests for comment through a spokesman.