Mormon Missionary Accused of Raping Teen, Fathering Child in Palm Desert

A lawsuit filed Friday against the Mormon church claims a teenager was sexually abused multiple times in Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage in 1985

Palm Desert Patch/May 3, 2014

By Renee Schiavone

Palm Springs, California -- A woman filed a lawsuit in Palm Springs Friday alleging that a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sexually abused and subsequently fathered a child with her while she was 13 and he was serving in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, and church leaders tried to hide what had happened.

Rancho Cucamonga resident Jacqueline Tyler filed the suit against the unnamed defendant -- said to be in his 20s at the time of the alleged abuse in July to November 1985 -- the Mormon church and the bishop of the church's Palm Desert ward.

The complaint alleges that the missionary committed "repeated acts of childhood sexual abuse," including fondling and sex, at least once a week and "resulted in a child being born" in June 1986.

The defendant then allegedly paid for the pregnant girl to travel to New York, "where he attempted to cause (her) to miscarry by physically abusing her body" and sexually abused her again, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that the local congregation's bishop encouraged Tyler to leave the area until her child was born, and wanted another family to raise the child. She "refused both of these plans," the document stated.

Church officials and the bishop told her and her family not to talk about the issue with anyone and "suppressed and concealed information related to (the missionary), (his) propensity towards childhood sexual abuse, including suppressing and concealing such information from (her), her parents, law enforcement, and child protective services."

The Palm Desert church, local bishop and the Salt Lake City-based Latter- Day Saints church could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the complaint, the missionary would seek food and water at Tyler's family's home while he was working in the community, and would participate in activities at the local church. He would say Tyler was pretty and ask her age, pick her up from school, and flirt with and touch her while at the mall, movies and other places.

He would enter Tyler's bedroom window after dark to sexually abuse her, according to the complaint.

Tyler's attorney, Michael Kinslow, told City News Service that Tyler raised her child, a boy, married a few times and had other children. The defendant, who lives in the San Jose area, was 24 when the child was born, and Tyler was 14, the attorney said.

Kinslow said Tyler went to New York believing the missionary would "do the right thing," and he abused her for a week and sent her home.

Kinslow said Tyler came forward when it happened, and the bishop pressured her and her family to not do anything about it.

"They should have right way taken it to the police, right away taken it to child protective services, right away got medical treatment," Kinslow said.

Kinslow said his client eventually "found her voice and decided to hold them accountable."

The suit asks for unspecified damages and a jury trial. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 29 at the Palm Springs courthouse.

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