Civil Suit vs Criminal Charges for Sexual Abuse: What’s the Difference?
Filing a claim for your abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an incredibly brave step. We understand that decision was not made lightly, and we want to make sure you have the resources to make informed decisions throughout this process.
After deciding to file a sexual abuse claim you will need to decide whether to file civil or criminal charges. Essentially, the difference between the two types of lawsuits can be broken down to the following characteristics:
- Civil Lawsuits – Cases that protect, Implement, or fix private rights. In civil lawsuits, you or the person you choose to represent you initiates legal action against your abuser or those liable for your abuse.
- Criminal Lawsuits – Formal chargers claiming someone has committed a crime. Criminal chargers are initiated by a government prosecutor.
Additionally, civil lawsuits and criminal lawsuits bear different weights when it comes to the “burden of proof.” The “burden of proof” is the job of a party to prove or disprove an argued statement. In this case, the “argued statement” would be your sexual abuse. Typically, criminal charges bear the heavier weight with burden of proof. This is because government prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged abuser is guilty.
However, with civil suits the burden of proof is lower, because only you must prove what happened. You don’t have to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the abuse occurred; you only need to present a preponderance of evidence that the abuse occurred and prove your injuries and their value to the court.
Why Choose a Civil Suit Over Criminal Charges?
Many of our clients ask why they should file civil charges for their abuse in the Mormon Church instead of criminal charges. Usually, this decision comes down to compensation. In a criminal case, if your abuser is found guilty, very rarely do you receive any sort of monetary compensation or “damages” from the conviction. In contrast, in civil lawsuits the jury can only award damages for the harm inflicted on you. They cannot convict your abuser.
While compensation cannot undo damage your abuser has caused, many survivors decide to file a civil suit to receive compensation for their injuries or to hold their abuser and affiliates accountable for the abuse. Sexual abuse victims often endure severe physical and emotional trauma from their abuse, leading to the need for counseling, therapy, and other medial treatments. Counseling is not always covered by insurance, so monetary compensation from a civil suit can help ease those financial burdens.
Where You Sexually Abused in the Mormon Church?
To see if you may be eligible to file a civil claim for your abuse in the Mormon Church, connect with our advocates today. We’re here to support you during this difficult time as you seek justice for your abuse. We understand that confronting abuse in the Church is not only frightening but overwhelming to approach; our sexual abuse attorneys are here to relieve the stress for you so you can focus on healing, not cutting through red tape.
For your free, no-obligation consultation, reach out to our sexual abuse attorneys today. We will walk you through our easy case evaluation to see if you may be eligible for compensation for your abuse. We promise that the information you share with us is kept confidential, and if you decide filing a claim is not in your best interest, you are in no obligation to our firm.
To speak with a caring representative today, reach out to us at 877.LDS.ATTY.
Utah HB90: How Does This Law Help LDS Sexual Abuse Survivors?
A bill proposed for the 2020 legislation would require all
Utah clergy, including those in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
to become mandatory reporters of child abuse. Sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero,
D-Salt Lake City, HB90 would remove clergy members’ exemption for reporting
sexual abuse to authorities. This new law would not just apply to the Catholic
Church but would impact other religions that keep confessions confidential such
as Easter Orthodox, Lutherans, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. The Mormon Church is Utah’s most predominant faith, so thousands of
followers will be impacted if HB90 is passed.
One of the major factors of sexual abuse being quieted or
unreported in the Mormon Church is because sexual abuse reports are usually confessed
to LDS bishops. Bishops are the “front line” clergy of the LDS church, so they
are usually the first to hear the confessions of not just children who have
been abused, but confessions from molesters that they abused a child.
In the LDS church, a bishop’s judgement is often the final word in taking care of matters in the ward. However, because bishops are either undertrained to handle sexual abuse allegations or other serious conduct involving ward members, many bishops make poor decisions that result in damage and trauma to innocent children. If HB90 is passed, bishops will likely have to report all confessions of sexual abuse to the authorities, giving more sexual abuse survivors in the Church a chance for healing and justice against their abusers.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, in response to HB 90 LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said this that "the church would need to review the bill and its implications before taking a position.”
Were You Sexually Abused While in the Mormon Church?
If you were sexually abuse in the Mormon Church, you are not alone. Other survivors who were abused by elders or members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stepped forward, shared their stories, and sought to hold the Church accountable for quieting their abuse and not protecting children from molesters in the Church. Many have, in fact, held the Church accountable for their abuse and have recovered millions in compensation to help them heal from their abuse-related injuries.
If you or a loved one were sexually abused in the Mormon Church, we have experienced sexual abuse attorneys standing by to fight for your right to healing and recovery. The attorneys with Abused in Mormonism are dedicated to protecting your rights, and we value the trust you put in us to handle your case with care and concern. To see if you may be eligible to file a claim for your abuse, give us a call today or fill out a contact form for your free case consultation.
Whistleblower Claims Mormon Church Mismanaged over $100 Billion Intended for Charitable Works
Complaint Urges IRS to Strip the Mormon Church of its Nonprofit Status After Reports of Tithing Mismanagement
The former investment manager the Mormon Church’s investment division filed a complaint to the IRS alleging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has stockpiled $100 billion intended for charitable purposes. The complaint, received November 21, claims LDS leaders not only mislead church members as to how they were using the money, but potentially deceived the IRS and breached federal tax regulations.
The Washington Post reported their findings after acquiring a copy of the complaint. The complaint was filed by David A. Nielson, a senior portfolio manager for the church’s investment division until September of this year. The 41-year-Mormon formerly worked at Ensign Peak Advisors, an LDS-sanctioned company located near the church’s headquarters.
Religious groups are typically categorized as nonprofit
organizations in the United States, meaning they are exempted from paying taxes
on their income. The Post says since Ensign is legally registered as a
“supporting organization and integrated auxiliary of the Mormon Church”, it is
also permitted to function as a nonprofit and not pay taxes on their income.
However, Nielson claims Ensign has not met the requirements of operating as a nonprofit and failed in their legally sanctioned role to function strictly for religious and charitable purposes.
According to the complaint, the church collects around $7 billion annually through members’ tithing. Tithing is a practice many faith groups use where members give 10% of their income to the church.
Of the $7 billion income generated, the Mormon Church uses approximately $6 billion for operating costs, and the leftover $1 billion is transferred to Ensign. Ensign allegedly puts that money into “an investment portfolio to generate returns.”
The complaint alleges that since 1997, the inception of Ensign, this portfolio has grown to approximately $100 billion. According to Nielson, this money should have been used for charitable purposes.
What Does This Mean for the Mormon Church?
In the complaint, Nielson advocates for the IRS to remove Ensign’s nonprofit status, insinuating Ensign could owe the government upwards of billions in taxes. As a whistleblower, Nielson could receive a reward from the IRS for reporting Ensign. If the IRS does find Ensign guilty, Nielson will receive a cut of the unpaid taxes the IRS recovers.
According to the Post’s whistleblower analyst Philip
Hackney, Nielson’s complaint provided “legitimate concern” about whether Ensign
should maintain its nonprofit status and reflects poorly on the trustworthiness
of Church-sanctioned businesses.
“If you have a charity that simply amasses a war chest year
after year and does not spend any money for charity purposes, that does not
meet the requirements of tax law,” Hackney stated. Hackney, as a former
official for the IRS, states that the Church must show Ensign “furthers a
charitable purpose exclusively on its own” in order to maintain its nonprofit
To read the Washington Post’s full story, click
Mormon Bishop Arrested for Owning Child Porn, Denied Bail
Investigators Suspect LDS Bishop May Have Sexually Abused
A Latter-day Saints bishop has been arrested for owning
thousands of images of child pornography, and investigators suspect he may have
sexually abused children, as well. According to The Salt
Lake Tribune, Timothy James Hallows, a Mormon bishop from Kaysville, Utah,
was booked October 16 into the Davis County jail.
Law enforcement denied Hallows bail, calling him a “substantial
danger” to the community and a flight risk. Investigators arrested Hallows on
suspicion of eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, which could lead
to a maximum 15-year prison sentence if he is charged and convicted.
Revealed through a probable cause statement, law enforcement
was made aware of Hallows’ crimes through a tip made by Microsoft. Microsoft
owns the video-chat app Skype, which the company said a user had been utilizing
to upload and send out pictures of child porn. Microsoft alerted the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children of the crimes on August 6.
Responding to the tip, investigators from Davis County
served a subpoena on Comcast on October 3. This subpoena led to Hallows’ home
and IP address in Kaysville, where he was arrested. Federal, state, and local
officials with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force served a search
warrant of Hallows’ home on October 16, investigators found thousands of child
porn images, some of them including images of child abuse.
According to the statement, Hallows talked to investigators,
waving his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. The 61-year-old man
admitted to taking pictures of children on various camping trips he went on as
part of his role as a Mormon bishop. The statement also indicated that when
asked whether he had sexual contact with kids, Hallows “…stated uh huh, and
shook his head in affirmation.”
Sexual Abuse in the Mormon Church
Only in the last decade have survivors of sexual abuse in
the Mormon Church started coming forward and holding their abusers in the
Church accountable for their actions. According to allegations, for years the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has silenced reports of sexual
abuse through quiet dismissals, not reporting cases to the police, and using
personal Church-sanctioned lawyers to settle complaints with victims. In doing
so, potentially hundreds of predators within the Church have not been brought
to justice for their crimes, left to abuse more children.
If you were abused by an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or had your abuse report silenced by the Mormon Church, you need to know you are not alone. There are resources available to help you through this difficult time, and we want to help you know and understand your options so you can recover and heal. To learn more about your options after being sexually abused in the Mormon Church, talk with us today. We have caring, compassionate professionals standing by 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns, and we promise the information you share with us is kept confidential.
I Was Sexually Abused in the Mormon Church: Who Do I file a Claim Against?
Who Do I Sue? Mormon Church Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
After surviving sexual abuse, it can be frightening to face
the crimes of the past, let alone decide to file a claim against for your
abuse. If you were sexually abused by an elder or member of the Mormon Church, your
abuser could be one person or multiple people who helped to hide your abuse.
The last thing you want to do is feel frustrated figuring out how to pursue
legal action, or even who to sue in some cases. So, consulting with an
experienced sexual abuse attorney is crucial during this difficult time. A
sexual abuse attorney can help you understand your legal rights, options, and
who is liable for your abuse within the Mormon Church.
Who May Be Liable for My Abuse in Mormonism?
Choosing who to sue for sexual abuse may seem like a simple
answer: the sexual predator who abused you. However, in many cases, other
institutions and people may be responsible for hiding your abuse or failing to
protect you from sexual predators in the Mormon Church. With sexual abuse
crimes, any person, institution, or organization directly or indirectly
involved with your abuse is liable and can be sued.
For example, for years the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints partnered with the Boy Scouts of America, and many Mormon
bishops were Scouting leaders. If you were molested by a Mormon Scoutmaster,
the Scoutmaster, the Mormon Church, and the Boy Scouts of America would be
responsible for your abuse.
Examples of Defendants in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits:
- Family members
- Churches, elders, religious volunteers
- Affiliated organizations, clubs, and daycares
- Employers and coworkers
Abused in Mormonism? Talk to Us Today
When you consult with Abused in Mormonism’s experienced
sexual abuse attorneys, you may discuss other related institutions and/or
people involved with your case that could be liable for your abuse. While it
may be uncomfortable and scary sharing the details of your abuse, you can have
peace of mind knowing that any information you share with us is kept
confidential and protected.
Also, after your consultation if you decide pursuing legal
action against your abuser isn’t your best option at this time, you are under
no obligation to our firm. Your information remains confidential, protected,
Abused in Mormonism’s legal team works to uplift you through
the process of filing a claim so you can feel confident in your case decisions
and knowing that your story is being handled with respect. To learn more about
your legal rights and find out if you may be eligible to file a suit against
your abuser in the Mormon Church, contact us today. We offer 24/7 care and
free, no-obligation case evaluations.