Mormon church faces new lawsuits over alleged failure to protect children from abuse

Mormon church leaders are now facing several lawsuits over their alleged failure to protect children from sexual abuse under a now-defunct foster program which ran from the 1940s to 2000.

(REUTERS / Jim Urquhart)The LDS Church's Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, is seen January 27, 2012.

Five lawsuits have been filed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2016 on behalf of Navajo tribal members who alleged that the Mormon church failed to protect children from sexual abuse at the hands of foster families. Three other similar lawsuits were recently filed in Navajo Nation court and Washington state, The Associated Press detailed.

During a news conference in Phoenix on Aug. 15, a new Navajo plaintiff identified as A.H. said she told her local bishop that her foster father was abusing her. However, the bishop told her not to talk about it and that the matter would be addressed.

According to A.H., the abuse continued and the Church did not report it to authorities. She sought legal advice after she observed that the same thing was happening to other Navajos such as a woman identified only as J.C.

The attorneys of the plaintiffs said the Church leaders failed to report the abuse to authorities or to other church members even though they knew about what was happening. They also allege that the Mormon church did not properly monitor foster families.

Mormon church representative Eric Hawkins has not yet responded to a request for comment on the issue. However, the church has said it takes certain steps to prevent abuse from happening.

Earlier this month, the Herald Sun reported that a Mormon church high priest named Darran Scott, aka Darran Page, pleaded guilty to child sexual assaults. He now faces jail term for molesting young boys under his care.

Based on court documents, Scott threatened the boys to prevent them from talking about the abuse. He was able to post bail and is set to face court again later this month.