The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been slapped with a lawsuit by six Mormon families over an allegation that it had hidden a number of child sex abuse acts done by a member in West Virginia.
The six families claimed that the LDS leaders were aware of the child sex abuse for years but had actively made sure the crime would be covered up.
Helen, one of the plaintiffs, told KUTV's sister station that she had told their bishop about the abuse - which had gone on for two months in 2008 - of two of her children who were 4 and 6 years old, but the church leaders did not believe her statement and did not act on her complaint.
"My church family preached to me about forgiveness -- that I needed to forgive him," said Helen. "How do you forgive something like that?"
Michael Jensen, the abuser, was indicted in 2012 for similar acts done on other children andr Helen told authorities about what happened. The following year, he was given a 75-year jail sentence after being convicted of abusing two young boys in 2007.
The LDS church, on the other hand, has issued a statement saying it does not tolerate any form of abuse. However, it refused to comment on the lawsuit pending litigation. The case filed by the families against the LDS church is set to go on trial in January.
Earlier this month, Fox 13 reported that authorities had arrested Mormon counselor Jeff Graton for three counts of forcible sexual abuse. The American Fork Police Department said an LDS Bishop had worried and reported to the police when Graton left his home taking his rifle..
Police took in Graton for an interview, where he reportedly admitted the accusations against him. He said the incident happened more than two years ago.
Graton could be jailed for at least one year and a maximum of 15 years if he is convicted of the sex abuse charges.