Thursday, June 09, 2016

LDS Church Sued In Tribal Court Over Child Abuse

St. George News yesterday reported on a suit filed this week against the Mormon Church and several of its affiliates alleging that LDS leaders did not take adequate steps in the 1970's to protect Native American children from sexual abuse after they were placed in Mormon foster homes. The suit stems from "Indian Placement Program" or "Lamanite Placement Program" which operated from the late 1940's until around 2000 and took children from their Navajo homes in order to convert them to Mormonism. Plaintiff contends that the LDS Church workers told him to remain in his Mormon foster home in northern Utah until the end of the school year even though he complained that his foster father was sexually abusing him.  Interestingly the suit was filed in Navajo Tribal Court in order to avoid statute of limitations issues that would otherwise arise under Utah law. Three other Native American plaintiffs have previously filed similar lawsuits, beginning in March of this year.  Last week, the LDS Church filed suit in Utah federal district court to enjoin the Tribal Court from proceeding in those suits, arguing that Tribal Courts lack jurisdiction over  nonmember activity that occurred outside the reservation.