A report released Friday shows Chandler police recommended criminal charges against two bishops from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for failing to report that a county supervisor's wife had committed sex acts on a minor after the church leaders heard about the abuse from the woman and her victim.
The report was issued the day after the Pinal County Attorney's office announced no charges will be filed against the LDS bishops Matthew Meyers and Troy Hansen. The report was released by the Chandler Police Department in response to a public records request by The Arizona Republic.
It says the church leaders did not call police after they learned that Susan Brock, 49, wife of Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock, had been molesting the teenage son of another church member and the victim was "seriously injured" by the abuse. They called church lawyers instead, the report says.
Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the Pinal County Attorney, declined to explain the office's decision not file charges. Available evidence, the law and reasonable likelihood of conviction by a jury are frequently cited by legal experts as factors in decisions whether to bring criminal charges.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins issued a written statement disputing allegations that church leaders knew of the abuse but failed to take action. He declined to answer questions. "Any allegation that Church leaders knew of abuse but did nothing is inaccurate and offensive. The Church is extremely proactive in its efforts to protect children from abuse of any kind, and works diligently to support and assist victims of abuse. When abuse does occur we work to see that it is reported to the authorities," the statement said.
Attorney Melvin McDonald,who has prosecuted, defended and judged many high-profile cases in Arizona, said if the victim and Susan Brock talked about the molestation with church leaders "they clearly should have reported it" to police. But he is not certain that their failure to do so could be considered criminal. McDonald, a former U.S. Attorney, Maricopa County Superior Court judge, and member of the Mormon Church, said prosecutors must base their decisions on "reasonable likelihood of conviction." That decision could be reconsidered and charges filed in the future, he said.
Laws requiring the reporting of sex abuse are clear in professions like teachers and doctors but less certain for clergy, McDonald said. In Arizona communications and confessions to clergy by perpetrators of crimes are exempt from reporting requirements but personal observations by clergy are not.
The police report says the victim and his father discussed the abuse with church officials and the father was under the impression that the leaders were going to call police and was "tired of waiting" for police intervention. The crime was brought to police attention by the family of the victim's girlfriend who saw explicit messages from Susan Brock on the boy's cell phone.
Chandler Police Officer Christopher Perez said in the report that legal representatives for the church in Salt Lake City told him Arizona is considered a "green state" when it comes to reporting abuse "meaning the Bishop in the LDS Church has no duty to report any information received regarding child abuse if that came to him in confidence."
Susan Brock pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor, beginning when he was 14, and is serving a 13-year prison term. Her daughter, Rachel, 22, is being held without bond on charges of abusing the same boy.