CASE REPORTS OF THE MORMON ALLIANCE
VOLUME 1, 1995
DISCIPLINARY COUNCILS AND APPEALS:
DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL, 31 JULY 1994
DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL, 7 AUGUST 1994
In early June 1994, Merradyth and Jack moved to Cedar
Lake, Oklahoma, a quiet country town where they could put some distance
between themselves and events unrolling in Silver Ward. They received an
answer to their March letter to the First Presidency, not from the First
Presidency but from Elder W. Mack Lawrence, president of the North
America Southwest Area, with copies to the First Presidency and
President Fulton. The letter, dated 29 June 1994 read:
The First Presidency has referred your letter of
March 23, 1994, to us for response.
We have on file one item of prior correspondence from
you dated August 31, 1993, listing allegations against a Brother Stan
Powell with respect to your son, Scott. Contrary to your suggestion that
the Church made no response to that letter, we remind you that Elder
Gerald Putnam, Regional Representative, was commissioned to investigate
these allegations. Elder Putnam produced a thorough report of his
interviews and fact-gathering in December , including his
interviews with you and others you recommended. Further information came
to the attention of Stake President Leon M. Fulton earlier this year,
and based on that information, together with Elder Putnam’s report and
his own research, President Fulton last March convened a stake
disciplinary council which took appropriate action with respect to
Brother Powell. We believe [that] your concerns expressed to the First
Presidency have been deliberately and carefully handled by local
priesthood leaders. We are also advised that the proper government
authorities are handling those aspects of the matter within their
Separately, you requested that the First Presidency
appoint a presiding officer in the place of President Fulton to conduct
a stake disciplinary council that had been scheduled with respect to
Sister McCallister. We are advised that President Fulton has referred
that matter to Bishop Neal P. Hancock so that any future disciplinary
council will be conducted by Bishop Hancock. Since that action
effectively honors your request, no action by the First Presidency is
Having endured the pain of the offense you alleged,
we would hope that you would refrain from publishing unsubstantiated
claims of wrongdoing that may cause similar anguish to other individuals
and families. We hope that you will now go forward with your lives, and
with the help of your bishops, work to bring about a spiritual healing
for Scott and all of your family. We refer you to the wise counsel of
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Council of the Twelve in his April 1994
General Conference address entitled "To Be Healed," a copy of
which is enclosed.
This letter was far from satisfactory. Elder Lawrence’s
vague sentence left the impression that someone else had brought the
other evidence about Powell to Fulton’s attention, that the
"anguish" of mistaken accusation was the equivalent of being
sexually abused, and that Putnam’s report, which they had not been
allowed to review, was complete and accurate. Nor did Elder Scott’s
talk (see Chapter 1) provide the desired comfort.
On the same day, 29 June 1994, Elder Lawrence also
dictated a letter to Mary in response to her appeal for a new judge:
The First Presidency has referred your letter dated
April 28, 1994, to us for response.
You requested that the First Presidency appoint a
presiding officer in the place of President Leon M. Fulton, Oklahoma
City Park Stake, to conduct a stake disciplinary council to which you
had been summoned. We are advised that President Fulton has referred
the matter to Bishop Neal P. Hancock so that any future disciplinary
council will be conducted by Bishop Hancock. Since that action
effectively honors your request, no action by the First Presidency is
At about this time, the McCallisters and Mary Plourde
were invited to participate on a panel at the Sunstone Symposium,
scheduled for the second week in August in Salt Lake City. Although only
Jack’s name appeared in the initial publicity, the McCallisters and
Mary feel that it drew President Fulton’s angry attention to them
On 20 July 1994, Merradyth received a letter from
Bishop Hancock informing her that a disciplinary council was scheduled
for Sunday, 31 July.
... because you were reported to be guilty of
conduct contrary to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, i.e., apostasy and unChristlike conduct.
... You are invited to attend this disciplinary
council to give your response and, if you wish, provide witnesses or
other evidence in your behalf. If you desire to provide witnesses, a
list of such witnesses and a brief statement of their expected
testimony should be provided to me through my executive secretary,
Gordon Bell, no later than July 28, 1994. All nonmember witnesses that
you might want to testify must be cleared by me before they are
allowed to testify.
If there is any good reason why you cannot be
present, please notify me in due time. In the event of your absence,
without such prior notice, action must be taken in accordance with the
evidence and established procedures of the Church in such matters. If
you need to reach me for any reason, contact Brother Bell... or my
personal secretary..., during working hours. Please provide
information as to how I can contact you both during the daytime and
evening. I will thereafter call you as soon as possible.
On Thursday, 28 July 1994, Floyd W. Taylor, wrote to
Bishop Hancock, explaining that he legally represented Jack, Merradyth,
and Scott McCallister and that they were responding to the July 10
letter informing Merradyth of her pending disciplinary council for
"apostasy and unChristlike conduct."
I realize that your Church does not concern itself
with affording due process in such cases [Taylor continued]; however,
as an attorney I believe you would agree with me that one should be
given at least a rudimentary idea of the factual basis of the
accusations which occasion a hearing in which penalties of any kind
can be imposed. Your letter does not inform Mrs. McAllister as to the
alleged facts upon which accusations of apostasy and unChristlike
conduct are based. This is fundamentally wrong and unfair.
He hypothesizes that the charges resulted from
going public with allegations of abuse against
minors having been perpetrated by Latter-day Saint clergy. The Church
apparently found that her allegations were not entirely imaginary,
since one of those against whom her allegations were made has been
excommunicated after investigation. Furthermore, mental health
professionals as eminent as Richard Sternlof, Ph.D., and others, have
opined that there is proper basis for Mrs. McCallister’s belief that
Mormon children have been abused. I am enclosing a copy of my March
14, 1994, letter to President Fulton. I believe the content of that
letter to be relevant to the present inquiry.
As far back as July 1990, LDS Bishop Glenn L. Pace
authored what was intended to be an internal memo documenting serious
concern about possible ritualistic child abuse practices by Latter-day
Saint members. Bishop Pace claimed to have interviewed 60 victims. ...
Was Bishop Pace subjected to a disciplinary council? Was he threatened
with disfellowshipment or excommunication?
It is my belief that your Church is making a
serious mistake by taking punitive action against the mother of a
victim of child abuse, whose only crime is attempting to get her
Church to address an issue which has already been documented, in order
to get something done to protect children. Mrs. McCallister’s
behavior is Christ-like in this regard. I would also suggest that your
Church’s behavior toward Mrs. McCallister is reminiscent of
something which occurred within my own Church 400 years ago: the Star
Chamber. Subjecting this brave woman to a disciplinary council is
Floyd W. Taylor
On the Friday night before the court, 29 July, Bishop
Hancock called Merradyth and began a conversation that Jack, who had
been hoping that he would "at least be neutral," described as
"hacking at Merradyth." Merradyth was not thrown off balance.
Instead, she remained steadfastly focused on her main goal of protecting
the children. She asked him, "What about Stan Powell? Does he still
have access to youth through the Church? What kind of man would
masturbate in front of another man in a bathroom on a college
Uneasily, Bishop Hancock said, "I don’t know
anything about that."
Jack "gave up" at that point. "He was
lying to say he didn’t know about it because we’d told him ourselves
and given him copies of the police report. I’m sure he thought it was
for a good cause, but how could he have the Spirit of the Lord with him
when he was lying? It seemed really clear to me at that point—the
children are expendable, because if they acknowledge that Powell is a
perpetrator, then people will start to ask how God can call
The McCallisters had heard reports that the
missionaries were telling people that the McCallisters "made all
this up." They were sympathetic with people’s discomfort over the
issue. "I wouldn’t have wanted to know either," said Jack.
Merradyth had had people refuse the packets she handed out summarizing
Scott’s and Jack’s abuse and quoting from the court documents
because, they would say, "We don’t want to take sides. We don’t
want to read it" Merradyth’s response was always the same:
"I’d say, what sides are you talking about? The issue here is
child abuse. Are you for it or against it?"
Merradyth declined to appear at the disciplinary
council when Bishop Hancock refused to allow any nonmember witnesses or
experts on child abuse to testify. She took issue with his claim that
"they wouldn’t understand how the Lord’s Church works or the
way we do things here in the Church." Merradyth had wanted Roseanne
and Maxine Hales to testify about the abuse to the Campbell children,
but Bishop Hancock "scoffed" that they would have nothing
germane to say. Merradyth, after thinking and praying about her options,
sent Bishop Hancock a terse letter via her son Scott and daughter Tara
McCallister Godwin. In a taped description of the proceedings, Tara
described how she, carrying her baby, Skyler, was met at the door and
escorted to a room by Gordon Bell, the executive secretary.
When Tara’s husband, Ted, came in and told her that
Scott was in the office with the bishopric, Tara wondered if they were
deliberately trying to keep her separated from Scott, since Merradyth
had made it clear to Bishop Hancock that she wanted both children to be
present She went to the bishop’s office, where a hall monitor was
standing by the door, opened it without knocking, and then used her
shoulder to drive it open. Scott was alone with the three members of the
bishopric and a clerk who was taking minutes.
The bishop jumped to his feet and exclaimed,
"You’re not invited."
Tara announced calmly, "Yes, I am. My mom
invited me. I’m on the list" She seated herself next to Scott.
She had been meditating and praying that she would be calm and unafraid.
"I didn’t want my voice to be shaky," said this diminutive
dark-haired young woman.
The bishop said, "We don’t want any contention
or angry feelings." Tara replied, "Well, I guess it’s a
little late for that, isn’t it?"
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"Scott and I are on the list," she reminded
him. "My mom wanted us here."
"Well," said the bishop doubtfully,
"we really wanted her in here but Scott’s here on her
"No, he’s not," contradicted Tara.
"Scott is here to say what he has to say, but Scott is not here
speaking for her. She has written her statement and that’s what
she wants to say.
Her entrance had interrupted the discussion Scott was
having with them, and they agreed to continue it, but the feeling in the
room was very heavy and oppressive. When Scott’s pager beeped, all
three members of the bishopric "jumped to seize Scott’s mobile
phone, exclaiming, ‘He’s wired!"’
Despite the bishopric’s obvious nervousness and
discomfort, Scott remained focused. He had prepared carefully and
thoughtfully, "almost like a missionary discussion," Tara said
admiringly, with three pictures of Jesus in various scenes and stories
by which he hoped to make his point Scott showed the bishop a picture of
Jesus cleansing the temple and asked, "What is Jesus doing
The bishop turned the question back, "Well, what
do you think he’s doing, Scott?"
Scott started to tell him how sexual abuse defiled
the temple of the body and how it needed to be cleaned. Tara
interrupted, "I think he asked you that question,
Bishop." Both men ignored her, so she listened quietly to their
Tara felt that Scott’s issue, though worthwhile,
was a separate issue from the disciplinary proceeding against her
mother, so she refocused the discussion by asking, "How do you feel
she’s an apostate?"
Bishop Hancock read the definition from the General
Handbook of Instructions about "unChristlike behavior" and
"open defiance of the Church and its leaders." When Tara asked
him how Merradyth had defied the Church, he answered, "Because she’s
gone to the press."
"This isn’t a Church thing," said Tara.
"It’s an organizational problem. If she were in the Army, the
Baptist Church, or a school, she has a right and a duty to protect her
family and the children. This organization needs to clean up its act.
She’s not trying to defy you and be rebellious. She’s not an
apostate. She’s not saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to tear the Church down
and those leaders can’t tell me what to do and I’m going to ruin
"Did she think about the repercussions?"
asked Neal Hancock. "There’s been a bomb in the church. People
have lost their jobs. You’ve made missionary work go down in the whole
state. Members’ faith has wavered."
Tara responded, "Anyone could have planted that
bomb, including you. My mom didn’t cause that. And she hasn’t caused
any of those things. The perpetrator has caused those things to happen.
Apostates try to hurt people. She’s not trying to hurt people."
She pressed him for evidence of unChristlike
behavior. Basically, he repeated the same list as evidence that
Merradyth had "damaged people."
Tara responded vigorously, "She hasn’t hurt
people. She’s been Christlike. She’s acting to protect the children.
She has the best intentions for her children and the other children in
the Church. She’s acting in their interests, to stop the abuse. She
loves this church. She loves the gospel. But she wants to heal and
protect the children. If that means sacrificing her membership, she’s
willing to do this, but she’s not an apostate."
Bishop Hancock asked, "What if Scott were the
perpetrator and he got kicked out. Would you kick him while they’re
down? What should a Christlike person do?"
Tara refused to be led off by this red herring.
"What does this question have to do with the issue?"
"Should we forgive that person?" asked
"Forgiveness plays a big role in healing,"
acknowledged Tara, "but that’s a separate issue from being sure
the perpetrator can’t continue to injure children. Besides that,
forgiveness takes place on the victim’s schedule and involves a long
process. Nobody can dictate that. And what does that have to do with my
The bishop dropped that tack and started reading
quotations from Merradyth from a pile of newspaper clippings. "This
is why I want your mom in here," he announced. "I want to know
if she said these things." With a shocked look on his face, he read
the paragraph about Scott being drugged and having burns on his arms.
"Could she have possibly said that?"
Scott quietly held out his arms, showing the scars.
The bishop hastily turned to the next clipping.
"Here’s an estimate that fifty children have been ritually
abused. Who are they? How could they possibly have been abused?"
Scott was not willing to let Bishop Hancock change
the subject so quickly. He reminded him, "I was molested in this
office—right here in this room, How could that have happened?"
"Oh, yes," said Bishop Hancock, "I
shudder to think of that. I’d scrub it out if I could. You can see
that the office is completely redone since then." Tara and Scott
looked around. The furniture had been rearranged but not changed. The
pictures on the wall were different. This comment, while sympathetic,
seemed "totally lame," thought Tara.
Scott looked squarely at the bishop. "Did Powell
confess what he did to me? I have a right to know that."
Neal Hancock said, "I can’t answer that."
Scott looked at the other three men and asked each in
turn, "Do you believe I was abused?" Two said they did. The
Then Bishop Hancock complained that Merradyth
"hadn’t gone through channels, that he would have been able to do
something if she had come to him." Later, Merradyth, who had been
listening quietly as Tara and Scott taped their recollections, broke in
to protest, "I often called to talk to Bishop Hancock, but he was
‘letting the stake president handle it"’
Bishop Hancock followed Leon Fulton’s line of
defense in insisting that Brother Putnam had conducted "a complete
investigation." Like Leon Fulton he had not read the court records
because "my priesthood leaders have already read them." (By
their own admission, they had not.) He had not even read Merradyth’s
statement, so Tara handed him a copy and read it out loud to him:
29 July 1994
Bishop Neal P. Hancock:
This letter is in reference to my defense to be
presented before you on Sunday, July 31, 1994, at 5:00 PM in Surrey
Hills. You and Leon Fulton have charged me to be guilty of:
"Conduct contrary to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ
of LDS, i.e., apostasy and unChristlike conduct" and
"adversely affecting the good name of the Church, the testimonies
and lives of its members."
I plead guilty to the following:
1. I am guilty of believing [that] my husband,
Jack, was sexually abused by his bishop, Wallace Leonard Simpson, as a
2. I am guilty of believing [that] my son, Scott
was sexually abused by his bishop, Stanley Dennis Powell, as a
3. I am guilty of believing [that] my friend,
Roseanne Hales, testified under oath, subject to perjury, that she and
her children were sexually and ritually abused by then-Bishop Stanley
Dennis Powell, her former husband, Peter Campbell, and other leaders
and members of the Mormon Church.
4. I am guilty of believing [that] the Church
priesthood leaders have shown more concern about protecting the
reputation of the Church than the harm done to the children from being
sexually abused in secret by men claiming to be true servants of God
in the name of his son Jesus Christ.
5. I am guilty of believing [that] I have a moral
obligation to warn all of God’s children equally of the signs of
sexual and ritual abuse, perpetrated by those in authority with the
threat of being infected by the AIDS virus, by whatever means is
available to me, guaranteed under my First Amendment right of free
This issue is not about vengeance or forgiveness. I
love my Church. It is because of my love for Jesus Christ and his love
for the children [that] I have decided, if I can’t warn the parents
within the system, the only other choice is to warn them from sources
outside the Church’s information network. I am willing to sacrifice
my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
rather than be bound by silence from spiritual intimidation.
God’s will be done.
(Signed) Merradyth A. McCallister
Bishop Hancock protested, "We tried everything
with your parents. They’ve abused the church."
Tara was exasperated. She told him coolly, "If
you really want to reach my parents, take off that white shirt and tie
to talk to my dad, read my mom’s statement, sit down and listen to
them talk, learn something about sexual abuse. I’ve said what I came
to say," and left. The counselor ushering her out shoved the door
shut after her so quickly that it brushed her fingers.
Scott remained to make one more effort. When Bishop
Hancock continued to complain that the McCallisters were at fault, that
they had abused the Church, and that they should be more Christlike,
Scott became emotional. "My dad was being Christlike in
standing up for his wife and children, like Mormon raising the tide of
liberty. My dad has worked for years with the teenagers of the ward. He’s
served twice in the nursery and taught Primary because he thinks
children are so important. If you decide to excommunicate them, their
blood will be on your garments."
The disciplinary council excommunicated Merradyth.
Bishop Hancock informed her of this decision in a letter written two
days after the disciplinary council.
2 August 1994
Dear Sister McCallister:
… At the hearing you did not appear but rather
sent your son, Scott McCallister, and your daughter, Tara Godwin, to
present a letter from you, which was done, as well as receiving other
information that they desired to present.
It was the decision of the council that you,
Merradyth McCallister, are hereby excommunicated from the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint for conduct contrary to the laws and
order of the Church. As a result of your excommunication, your name is
hereby removed from the membership records of the Church. As with any
individual who is a non-member of the Church, you cannot enjoy any
membership privileges, including but not limited to payment of tithes
and offerings, partaking of the sacrament, offering public prayer at
any Church meeting, or voting and sustaining of officers. You are,
however, encouraged to attend public meetings of the Church in an
You have the right to appeal this decision within
thirty days from the date of this letter to the Oklahoma Stake
President, Leon M. Fulton. An appeal should be in writing and should
specify the errors or unfairness you claim in the procedure or
decision and be presented to the undersigned within said thirty days.
Such [an] appeal would then be forwarded to President Fulton.
Please contact me in person, so that an appointment
may be set to discuss with you how you may regain your membership. It
is my hope and prayer that you will allow us to fellowship you and
that you will desire to return to the Church.
Neal P. Hancock
A news report on Channel 4 of Merradyth’s
excommunication summarized President Fulton’s defense: there was no
cover-up; there was just no proof for the McCallister story, and it was
time for the McCallisters to be held responsible for their accusations.
The on-camera quotation from President Fulton was, "There is a
tremendous responsibility, we feel, that we don’t involve ourselves in
the tragedy of innocent people being accused and their lives and their
families destroyed." Wryly, the McCallisters wondered: Who was
innocent? Whose lives were being destroyed?
The next development was that Mary received a letter
informing her that she was being summoned to a bishop’s disciplinary
council scheduled for Sunday, 7 August. Bishop Hancock told her that she
could not summon as witnesses the other young men Scott’s age who were
now attending Brigham Young University on the grounds that "they
would only be able to testify about the sexual abuse and not about your
apostasy." Mary therefore refused to attend the court but stood
outside the bishop’s office with her husband and presented a statement
of her position to the awkwardly clustered bishopric.
She announced that if the court wouldn’t recognize
her witnesses, she wouldn’t recognize the court. "I won’t be
part of the curtain being drawn over sexual abuse," she said.
"I won’t abandon my First Amendment rights."
She was startled to hear Bishop Hancock repeat the
exact statement Leon Fulton had made earlier, "You don’t
understand that the laws out there don’t apply in here."
She laughed shortly. "You don’t
understand. I don’t step my foot anywhere that my Constitutional
rights can’t accompany me."
The letter, informing her that she had been
excommunicated, dated 9 August 1994, was identical in wording to the
letter Hancock had written to Merradyth only five days earlier.
Mary always felt that Bishop Hancock was approachable
and basically honest. When "I put the court records in front of his
face—the page that had ‘Garrett’s daddy’ in it, he said, ‘Wow,
I didn’t know about that.’ Neal Hancock is very tender-hearted. He
used to get tears in his eyes when the Primary children would give him
pictures. I told him, ‘We have to do something about this. You have
three men in your ward who have been named as perpetrators of child
sexual abuse: Stan Powell, Peter Campbell, and Earl Harrison.’ He
answered—and he was not being sarcastic, ‘What can we do? What can
we do?’ He asked me to find information on Earl Harrison, who is his
ward clerk. I said, ‘I’ve found you information on two out of three.
When does your job start?"’ He cried after he excommunicated me,
and I hugged him with no hard feelings. But they handed him the hatchet
and he used it. He fell for the frat."
The McCallisters sent the documents related to
Merradyth’s excommunication and Jack’s resignation to their attorney
with a query about whether their First Amendment right of freedom of
speech had been infringed. He responded on 9 August 1994, advising them
that they must first "exhaust your remedies within the Church ...
no matter how pointless that may seem" and promising to investigate
He then added a personal paragraph:
I am very sorry and share your disappointment in
your church’s actions. However, I remain convinced of your courage
and determination, and I have nothing but admiration for you and your
family. I believe that in time, the LDS Church will recognize you and
Jack for the true "saints" that you and he are. To me, it is
inconceivable that errors made by men would be permitted by God to
interfere with the salvation of one’s soul. It is even more
inconceivable that church leaders in any church would use secular
religious power to silence people whose only objective is to protect
defenseless children from being abused. Such an abuse of power cannot
have the sanction of God. There is but One ultimate arbiter of this
matter, and it is not LDS officials.
The next week, Mary, Jack, and Merradyth went to the
Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City where they told their stories to a
packed room as part of a panel on "Child Sexual Abuse in the LDS
Community," moderated by Marion B. Smith, the founding director of
the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center in Salt Lake City. Also
participating was Andrea Moore Emmett, who had resigned her membership
in the Church because of overt support for an alleged sex offender in
her ward (see Chapter 5) while the
victims and their parents received no support, and Martha Pierce, a
guardian ad litem for the state of Utah, who described the
statutes. A television crew filmed the session and interviewed Jack,
Merradyth, and Mary after the session. Clips of the interview appeared
on local television in Salt Lake City that evening.
On 29 August 1994, Merradyth also mailed a letter to
Dianna Carroll, chair of Parents’ Alliance Against Sexual Abuse,
executive director of Mothers Against Sexual Abuse, and a lay minister
in a nondenominational Christian church. She reported that "my
husband and three other [friends of Jack] have recently come forward
telling of being sexually molested by their bishop over twenty-five
years ago in Oklahoma City." She described recent events, including
I was distressed. We turned to our U.S.
Congressman, Ernest J. Istook, a personal friend and himself a Mormon.
I was shocked to learn: (1) He had never heard of the problems of
child ritual abuse; (2) He denied it existed within the Church or his
district; (3) He refused to waste his time looking into the matter. Of
course, I was disappointed by his response and lack of concern. I know
he was busy; but what has higher importance than the safety of our
... Church officials remain in total denial [that]
the situation exists. They are angry with me for speaking out. I feel
they are more concerned about the public image damage done to the
Church than the personal damage done to the lives of the children.
She found a sympathetic ally. On 12 September 1994,
Dianna Carroll wrote an open letter to ministers of local churches and
sent the identical letter to the editor of The Oklahoman in
Oklahoma City. She offered her services as a speaker or as a
clearinghouse for more information. In her letter, she summarized the
McCallister/Plourde case briefly, then said:
After caring enough to go public with their own
personal pain, they were excommunicated for exercising their first
amendment right as Americans.
After extensive investigation into this case, I
have found a considerable amount of documentation and evidence to
validate the victims’ position.
It is beyond inconceivable that any church would
sustain a ... sexual predator for which there are civil court records,
medical, and mental health information to support sexual and possible
ritual abuse of children. This church chose to shield and protect the
perpetrators of child sexual abuse while they castigate, chastise, and
banish the victims and victims’ family for coming forward and
speaking up against child sexual abuse in the church.
An additional blow came when U.S. Congressman
Ernest Istook, a man I personally supported and campaigned for in the
last election, spoke to me on April 3, 1994. Ernest is a member of
this Mormon Church. I kept notes and I understood him to say that his
first priority was the image of this Mormon Church, the financial
damage to the Church, etc. I feel his concern is not for the past
victims or the high probability of new victims in this church. This
response was very disheartening and discouraging. What kind of
influence does this Mormon Church and its leaders have in his
political decisions? What would someone compromise for our state and
country, when they would go to the sad extreme of a moral compromise
of children who have been sexually abused? … God help us when it
becomes politically correct to look the other way when children are
sexually or ritually abused in the name of image or money.
On 17 October 1994, Carroll wrote an open letter to
Istook, underscoring his conflict of interests and calling particular
attention to his refusal to read the transcript of Campbell v. Campbell.
"As a high priest in the Mormon Church you have an obligation to
defend its reputation. As a Congressman you have an obligation to uphold
the Constitution, with powers to investigate individual and
institutional wrongdoing when appropriate. How do you balance your
loyalty with the Mormon Church and your loyalty to the people in
Oklahoma 5th District who are not members of the Mormon Church? Who are
you accountable to for your role in this matter?" The next month,
this group took out an ad in the Yukon Review (Saturday, 5
November 1994, p. 8), after picketing Istook’s office two days before.
The ad, about a quarter page size read: "Istook protects Mormon
Image, NOT our children! Child ritual abuse is Real. Ask State Attorney
General: 521-3921 ." There was no response.
July 24th came four days after Merradyth received
notification of her disciplinary council. This holiday that resonates in
Mormon consciousness was also Jack’s birthday. He used it to write to
I hereby immediately TERMINATE my membership in the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For three years as a youth, I was sexually molested
by my bishop, Wallace Leonard Mercer. I kept the secret safe for
thirty years. By my own investigation, I now know of three other
victims my age who had the same perpetrator. ... I suspect many other
victims are yet to be discovered.
My silence sacrificed my son Scott to the same
fate. Child sexual abuse is generational. Twenty-five years later,
Scott’s trust was also betrayed. He was sexually molested by his
bishop, Stanley Dennis Powell, for three years, as a youth.
Today, this problem is even more serious than just
the emotional scars. AIDS is often transmitted as a result of sexual
abuse. I sincerely feel the Church is shamefully failing to warn the
parents of the real danger in an effort to protect its own image. This
is WRONG. As a serious consequence, parents are failing to warn their
children. Children are silently suffering sexual victimization by
priesthood leaders [who violate] their trust with contempt.
The Church assures us specifically that all of our
leaders are called directly by God. They speak for God. We are
commanded to obey them without question or else face the penalty of
excommunication for "apostasy." If that is true, one of
these statements must be the true explanation:
|... God is calling perverts to become leaders because the
laborers are few.|
|Leaders are becoming perverts faster than God can locate and
assign new ones.|
|God has lowered his standards. He doesn’t care anymore about
what happens to the children. He makes mistakes.|
|Or there are "wolves in sheep’s clothing that have
entered into the flock" using the name of Jesus Christ to
quietly prey upon his little lambs to satisfy their perverted
sexual appetites while the Good Shepherd is absent.|
The Church has done nothing to prevent, detect, or
correct "priesthood leaders" from performing secret acts of
vile sexual perversion upon our defenseless children. Denying the
existence of this problem is not the solution. It is the perpetuation.
A victim’s fear of not being believed and losing his or her soul for
eternity via excommunication is adequate intimidation enough to keep
the secret safe within the system.
I refuse to bow down before this false image. I
refuse to be intimidated into silent consent. I refuse to place the
reputation of the Church ahead of the safety of our children. I refuse
to protect child sexual molesters in high places.
I am angry. I have a right to be angry. I give you
back your membership until such time [that] you accept accountability
and responsibility for this moral crisis. If I am condemned by Church
leaders and regarded by its members to be an "enemy to God and
the Church" for shouting out the secrets to the media, so be it.
There is no other way. I’d rather be damned through all generations
of time and throughout all eternity, if it’s God’s will, than
retreat from the fight against child sexual abuse because my actions
are a source of embarrassment to the Church.
Sincerely, Jack C. McCallister, Jr.
Child Sexual Abuse Survivor advocate
Two days after the disciplinary council that
excommunicated Merradyth, on 31 July 1994, Bishop Hancock finally
responded to Jack’s request to have his name removed:
Pursuant to your request, your name is being
removed from the Church records and your Church membership is being
terminated. As a result, your baptism, priesthood ordinations, temple
ordinances, and all blessings that you may be entitled therefrom shall
This action shall be completed unless you make a
written request to rescind and withdraw your said request within
thirty days from the date of this letter directly to Stake President
Leon M. Fulton. President Fulton’s address is ... .
I sincerely hope you will reconsider your request
and write to President Fulton. We love you and pray that you will
change your mind and come back to the Lord.
It was a straight from-the-handbook response.
Jack listened to his hopes one more time. "I
knew it wouldn’t do any good, but on some level there was still
hope," he remembers. "I wanted to take every chance. I wanted
to give them every chance." So on Thursday, 1 September 1994, he
faxed a more conciliatory memo to Leon Fulton asking him to drop the
request to have his name removed from Church records:
I accept Neal’s sincere "thirty-day
offer" to rescind my resignation of membership in the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Regardless of that fact, however, I will continue
to publicly speak out, as I feel appropriate, in a sincere effort to
expose child sexual molesters and their overt and covert conspirators
within the general body of the priesthood and leadership hierarchy of
I am in total agreement with my wife’s actions to
openly reveal the "secrets" kept within a system which
enables perpetrators and disadvantages victims.
The highest priority within the Church at this time
is not salvation for the dead or missionary activity. The urgency is
to purge the priesthood of perverts who are entrenched and protected
by layers of collective denial. This can only be accomplished by
warning every parent through duly authorized and responsible leaders
of the danger. The Church is guilty of gross negligence of duty to do
Parents must be made aware of the importance of
protecting their children from those most trusted and therefore least
Specific changes need to be made within the system.
I sincerely urge you to act immediately and stop ignoring or
minimizing this serious problem.
I am not here to destroy the law and order of the
Church but to defend the children.
Jack also signed this letter, "child sexual
abuse survivor and advocate." Six days later on 7 September 1994,
Leon Fulton replied to Jack:
Dear Brother McCallister:
On Sunday, September 4th, I found the fax which you
apparently sent the afternoon of [Friday], September 2nd rescinding
your request that your name be removed from the rolls of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints [sic]. Unfortunately the thirty-day
response period, to which you refer from Bishop Neal Hancock’s
letter, had expired on August 30th and the paperwork [was] forwarded
to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
If you sincerely desire to reaffiliate yourself
with the Church, that opportunity can be available to you, as with any
other nonmember, conditioned upon the principles of faith, repentance,
and a commitment to live all the gospel covenants (D&C 20:37).
Should this be your desire, I would recommend that you contact Bishop
Hancock and meet with him to discuss the necessary steps to bring you
to the point where readmission to the Church would be possible.
On 20 September 1994, Jack, hurt and indignant, wrote
to the area president, W. Mack Lawrence of the Seventy, with copies to
the First Presidency and with Leon Fulton:
I’m forwarding a copy of Leon Fulton’s terse
response to rescind my Church membership resignation. To me, this is
evidence of Fulton’s malice and bitter contempt toward me. I feel
the spirit of his letter was insulting and demeaning.
I don’t believe the papers were sent to Salt Lake
before he received my fax. … I feel it is just a technicality to
enforce the thirty-day option exclusively according to his
interpretation of the rule. Neal Hancock’s letter to me offered a
thirty-day reconsideration period from 2 August 1994; I interpreted
that to mean a complete month from that date, [to] 2 September
I believe it is obvious that Fulton was so eager to
dispose of my membership that he selected the earlier date to
disqualify my option to rescind. To reaffiliate myself to the Church
he recommends that I contact Hancock and "meet with him to
discuss the necessary steps to bring [me] to the point where
readmission to the Church is possible." I feel [that] this action
is punitive in nature and is in effect the same as being
excommunicated without the benefit of due process under the rules
outlined in the General Handbook.
I totally disagree with how this matter is being
handled locally. I ask for some direct intervention by general
leadership authority. If Fulton is truly called of God, representing
Jesus Christ, where is the compassion to leave the ninety and nine to
search for and retrieve the one lost sheep rather than cast them
outside the fold?
On 4 October 1994, a letter from the entire area
presidency, Elders W. Mack Lawrence, Gene R. Cook, and F. Enzio Busche,
came back to Jack and Merradyth with copies to Bishop Hancock and
We acknowledge your 20 September 1994 letter to
Elder W. Mack Lawrence wherein you make reference to your standing in
Since you had indeed previously resigned your
membership, it will be necessary for you to be rebaptized in the
appropriate way. We invite you to meet with Bishop Neal Hancock if you
truly want to participate with the Church and to live by its
teachings, precepts, and principles.
Brother McCallister, we in the Church work ever so
diligently to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will
listen. We can’t see how you would feel we are trying to cut anyone
off from participation and from the blessings of the gospel.
Lest we, too, be misunderstood, we want to say
plainly to you: We welcome you to affiliate with us. Come back! Know
that you are welcome. Know that you can be rebaptized as you reaffirm
your desire to endorse and live the principles of the gospel and your
willingness to sustain the leaders of the Church—from your local
leaders, including your bishop, to the President of the Church. We
will welcome you with open arms.
Our counsel and invitation is to come back and join
us in our efforts to perfect each other.
On 29 August 1994, Merradyth sent her appeal to
I hereby exercise my right of appeal of
excommunication and "specify the errors or unfairness … in the
procedure and decision" for the accusation of "conduct
contrary to the law and order of the Church."
My objections to the procedure:
- Hancock assigned by Fulton as my common judge. Fulton has
threatened to excommunicate me for months if I refused to be
silent. As bishop, Hancock reports directly to Fulton in the
priesthood line of authority. Hancock is under Fulton’s dominant
influence and control. Fulton approves Hancock’s worthiness to
hold a current temple recommend. Since Fulton was not in a
position to execute his threat personally, he assigned Hancock to
be his enforcer. Hancock was easily intimidated by the priesthood
leadership hierarchy, his ward peer group, and Stan Powell. They
collectively sought for vindictive revenge because I participated
in exposing sexual perversion to the media. This downgrading by
delegation is an insult to fair and impartial justice without
- Hancock disallowed all of my material witnesses the opportunity
to testify, relevant to my defense, to determine if my conduct was
contrary to the law and order of the Church. I felt his manner
over the phone was both condescending and manipulative. I refused
to personally attend the "court of love" since it was
apparent to me [that] he was motivated for the love of something
else other than the love of truth.
My objections to the decision:
- Hancock had no supporting evidence to prove any of my statements
in the Yukon Review "adversely affected the good name
of the Church and the lives and testimonies of its members":
Hancock had no sound logic to make his decision, based on the
facts, that I was guilty of "unChristlike conduct"
justifying the penalty of excommunication (with its attached
spiritual and social stigma). It should be obvious to any
objective person [that] there is absolutely no justification for any
disciplinary action to be inflicted upon me for exercising my
First Amendment right of free speech to warn the parents to
protect their children from being sexually molested by undetected
offending leaders and members.
|No proof identifying my statements in the Yukon Review (with
small community circulation), created a whirlwind of metro-wide
negative public opinion.|
|No evidence demonstrating that because of my statements in the
Yukon Review there was a perceivable decrease in either
the quantity or quality of new converts.|
|No proof indicating that because of my statements in the Yukon
Review specific Church members had suffered damaged
testimonies of Jesus Christ|
|No evidence establishing the claim that because of my
statements in the Yukon Review Mormon businessmen lost
customers, others lost jobs, school children were harassed, and
the chapel was fire-bombed.|
I deserve and expect an immediate, written,
point-by-point response to my appeal of excommunication. In regard to
this matter, I am not deceived into believing self-serving
"secret" acts done in the name of God should be disguised as
On 7 September 1994, Mary also wrote an eloquent
letter to Leon Fulton appealing her excommunication by Neal Hancock:
I ... hereby exercise my right to appeal the
excommunication decision on the basis of unfairness in procedure. All
of my available witnesses were completely excluded by Neal
Hancock. He justified his denial based upon the statement [that]
"your" witnesses would only be able to testify to the sexual
molestation problem and not to your apostasy issue. When I
asked him if I had any right as an American citizen to voice my
concerns about children being sexually molested, he said, "those
laws out there do not apply to us here inside the Church."
I am a Mormon and intended to remain a Mormon.
However, my excommunication has not allowed me to stay with the Church
and at the same time exercise my freedom of speech by warning other
members about this serious problem. Until I discovered the information
regarding child ritual abuse in the Canadian County court records I
was totally unaware [that] there was a problem. You choose to conceal
the information and label it "a crazy woman’s desperate attempt
to gain custody of her children."
I would have preferred [that], as parents, we were
allowed the opportunity to decide for ourselves without censorship the
facts of the matter. Without this knowledge, my children were likewise
vulnerable because you refused to believe the children. Therapists and
medical records were evidence enough of wrongdoing or at least strong
suspicion. You placed the outward reputation of the Church and the
offenders named of more value than the safety of our children. As a
result I was unable to protect my children or other children within my
care and concern as a mother and a Primary teacher.
I oppose being excommunicated for
"apostasy." Is it apostate to stand up for the rights of
innocent children? This country was founded upon the rights of its
citizens. Are not children citizens of this country, too? This Church
was founded upon true and correct principles, was it not? Is it a true
and correct principle to cover-up the actions of offenders to preserve
the image of the Church? Are not all children God’s children?
Leon, it appears to me that you have violated God’s
law to protect the children. You have instead protected the offenders
and punished the children with intimidation, disbelief, and further
victimization. You have ignored the sincere cries of the mothers on
behalf of those children. You and the other priesthood co-conspirators
are as guilty of disobeying moral, spiritual, and criminal law as the
Who shall offend one of these little ones that
believe in me, it is better that a millstone were hanged around his
neck and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42).
Mary Snow Plourde
Merradyth received the expected negative response to
her appeal in a letter dated 20 September 1994:
The stake presidency and the high council have
carefully and prayerfully considered your appeal, dated 29 August
1994, in which you object to both the procedure and the decision of
the bishop’s council held in your behalf on 31 July 1994. As a
result of that consideration of your appeal and a complete review of
the bishop’s council proceedings, the decision of the stake
presidency and the high council is that the bishop’s council
decision—that you be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints—stands as issued.
Sister McCallister, in your objections you make
strong accusations against Bishop Hancock’s integrity as a presiding
officer in your council. You need to understand that Bishop Hancock
was assigned that responsibility after extensive counseling and
communication with the Area Presidency, who had responsibility to
address your appeal to the First Presidency. We personally know that
no pressure, or influence, was directed toward Bishop Hancock and his
handling of the bishop’s council. In addition, Bishop Hancock is a
man of impeccable character, integrity, and understanding and would
not have submitted to, nor been involved in the things you allege.
You also allege that Bishop Hancock had no proof,
evidence or logic to support the council’s decision. Our review of
the council proceedings and the accompanying documents seems to show
substantial support for the decision. It is unfortunate that you chose
not to attend the council, where you could have reviewed and addressed
If you feel that you still have not received
fairness in the handling of this matter, you have the right to appeal
the stake presidency’s and high council’s decision to the First
Presidency of the Church.
Should you choose to appeal that decision, you have
thirty (30) days from the date of this letter to provide to President
Leon M. Fulton [home address] a written appeal, addressed to the First
Presidency and specifying the unfairness or errors which you feel have
occurred within the council or review. That appeal will then be
forwarded to the First Presidency.
Sister McCallister, we sincerely encourage you to
accept Bishop Hancock’s invitation to meet with him and let him help
you understand the steps necessary to work toward regaining your
membership in the Church and once again (to] enjoy all of the
blessings of the Gospel.
Sincerely, Leon M. Fulton, L. Arnold Clinton
Calvin C. Fleming
In an undated memo, Merradyth took issue with five of
the stake presidency’s rebukes in this letter:
- When they stated "You make strong accusations against Bishop
Hancock’s integrity as presiding officer in your council,"
she responded: "The Fulton-Hancock connection obligated Hancock
to ‘sustain’ his priesthood leader. Hancock’s failure to
satisfy his senior leaders’ threat to excommunicate me could have
meant he was traveling the high road to apostasy. Fulton in his
response to my appeal did not deny his intention to
excommunicate me himself if he had the opportunity. Could Hancock
have been totally unaware of Fulton’s intention?"
- The stake presidency’s letter stated: "Hancock was assigned
that responsibility after extensive counseling and communication
with the Area Presidency, who had responsibility to address your
appeal to the First Presidency." Merradyth responded:"The
issue is not who had the authority to assign the duty to
preside. Why didn’t it seem relevant to the Area Presidency ‘after
extensive counseling and communication’ that Fulton had the potential
of exerting improper influence overtly or covertly, over Hancock’s
- "We personally know that no pressure, or influence, was
directed toward Bishop Hancock and his handling of the bishop’s
council." Merradyth’s response was: "Is Fulton implying
he never discussed the matter with Hancock prior to the announcement
of Hancock’s decision? If there was discussion, is Fulton without
the ability to influence Hancock? Why is he [Hancock?] so totally
beyond influence? How much more obvious could the pressure be
without voluntary admission, except on the basis of
- "Bishop Hancock is a man of impeccable character, integrity,
and understanding and would not have submitted to, nor been involved
in the things you allege." Merradyth’s response was a crisp
"So what? Everyone is ‘of impeccable character, integrity,
and understanding’ until they have been exposed otherwise.
Ninety-seven percent of all child molesters have that facade. For
that very reason I have learned to be suspicious of the motives of
those in priesthood authority with flawless images who are vouched
for by yet others in priesthood authority."
- "Our review of the council proceedings and the accompanying
documents seems to show substantial support for the decision. It is
unfortunate that you chose not to attend the council, where you
could have reviewed and addressed that evidence." Merradyth
replied: "Hancock disallowed my material witnesses the
opportunity to give testimony on my behalf. I haven’t been given a
satisfactory explanation of why all of my witnesses were denied the
opportunity to testify on my behalf. Who made that decision? When do
I have the opportunity to challenge it? Regarding the ‘review,’
is there a written record of the proceedings? What are the
supporting documents? Why don’t I have an equal right to examine
the record like Fulton? I waived only my right to attend the
council, not review the file. What evidence is in the file to prove
the direct cause-and-effect relationship between my statements and
all the adverse effects alleged by Fulton? Where are the specific
facts to show how the conclusion was arrived at? Why am I denied
access to the file? It is a collection of secret interpretations
used to flog the intimidated into spiritual submission."
On 13 October 1994, Merradyth prepared her letter of
appeal to the First Presidency:
I am appealing my excommunication from the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t agree [that] I have
done anything to justify condemning and severing my eternal soul from
my loving Heavenly Father.
I know there are priesthood leaders and members in
this area that are sexually perverted. They abuse children and women.
I will not be silent It has been covered up for years by individuals
in leadership positions. I believe Bishop Glenn L Pace was telling the
truth. ... This is another cry for help. You knew about this awful
condition and remained silent Why weren’t we warned?
I feel it is the priesthood leaders who have
adversely affected the lives and testimonies of the members of the
Church and are guilty of unChristlike conduct. The leaders are not
properly educated in sexual abuse matters. They are unaware of the
typical characteristics of a pedophile. Therefore, the lives of the
children in the stake and throughout the Church are in danger. Leaders
have failed to report suspected cases of child abuse. It is not only a
moral obligation to protect innocent children, but it is a crime not
to report such cases to legal authorities.
As a result … The children are still in danger.
Stanley D. Powell and Peter Campbell are known pedophiles. They are
still involved in various Church activities, with no attempt being
made to stop them. How many other pedophiles have secretly
"repented" in the eyes of the Church and are still molesting
children in this stake? I know of others.
I state further that Leon Marshall Fulton, Curtis
James McLean, and Gerald Putnam as stake presidents knew of Stan
Powell’s sexual perversion and continued to allow him to function as
a bishop and active high priest. For years he has been a danger. Arnie
Clinton, first counselor to Fulton, said to us, "Well, we put him
back in the high council where we could watch him." Leon Fulton
also said, "Powell has struggled with homosexual tendencies his
whole life." Where is the protective care involving our children?
Some of the names that have been reported to me to
be involved by the victims are Stan and Sylvia Powell, Peter Campbell,
Earl Harrison, Carter and Nancy Green. Maybe Leon Fulton is involved
too, I don’t know to what extent. Others have also been named. My
list is growing of other victims in the Church around the country with
the same problem. Why aren’t we warned?
I am also aware that our U.S. Congressman, Ernest
J. Istook, was aware of the suspicion of ritual abuse taking place
within the Church. We informed him personally and asked for his help
as a fellow Church member, parent, and friend. Rather than investigate
the allegations for the sake of the children, he was commissioned by
Church officials to use his political influence to suppress the
investigation and report by KFOR Channel 4 [that] Brad Edwards
[produced called], "Are the Children Lying?" in early April
of this year.
Sexual perversion should not exist within the
Church to harm the lives of its children. I will raise a warning
voice. I wish to be a resource within the Church to help educate the
members regarding danger to our children. I told the stake presidency
I wanted to work together [with them].
As a mother in Zion, I condemn those who have
committed horrible atrocities upon our children. I condemn those who
have concealed the true facts. I condemn those who have attempted to
silence me with excommunication. The blood and devastated lives of the
children are on their hands. Many other mothers and children have been
praying for help.
I am not guilty of apostasy. I do not deserve to
lose my membership in the Church. If I am right in this matter, the
Oklahoma City priesthood leaders’ authority is null and void before
God and ceases to exist. Therefore, my membership remains intact. Out
of their own mouths, they have condemned themselves!
Merradyth signed herself, "Mother in Zion and
true follower of Jesus Christ."
On 29 December 1994, Leon Fulton told the
McCallisters that he had the response from the First Presidency to
Merradyth’s appeal. Merradyth and Scott attended this meeting, which
began with Fulton asking them if they were taping it—he’d
"heard rumors" that they would. He let them read the letter,
signed by all three members of the First Presidency: Howard W. Hunter,
Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson. It "affirmed" the
decision of the high council and asked President Fulton to extend their
"best wishes" to her and their encouragement that she would
"qualify to return to the Church in the prescribed way." The
letter ended with instructions to read the letter to Merradyth but not
give it to her or let her have a copy.
Merradyth asked for a copy anyway. Fulton refused.
When Scott asked why they couldn’t have a copy, Fulton said that he
assumed that "the Brethren have been through all of this and they’d
be aware that all of the correspondence has become public documents and
see no value in making one more piece of paper into a public
document." President Fulton apparently did not know (this may have
been his first disciplinary council appeal that had gone to the First
Presidency) or had overlooked the fact that these instructions are
standard on similar letters. He also refused to write a letter of his
own confirming the decision.
Most of the meeting was an attempt to reach an
understanding on some issues, but Fulton’s approach was basically
defensive and soon veered to the accusatory. He acknowledged that the
McCallisters felt they had been dealt with unfairly and hoped that the
passage of time would soothe some of the wounds. Then he explained why,
from his perspective, he thought the right action had been taken.
Basically, it was that the Church leaders agreed with him, not the
McCallisters. Merradyth recalled, "He said, ‘I gave all of your
material to the First Presidency and the man that we sustain as prophet
has weighed what should be done. And this is his decision. The
bishopric, the stake presidency, the high council, two regional
representatives, the area presidency, and the presidency of the Church
are all in agreement that this is a correct decision. Whether that means
anything to you or not, I don’t know, but why don’t you stand back
and look at it a little bit."’
He also complained that Merradyth had consistently
said that the reason she had been excommunicated was because she had
gone public about Scott’s abuse. She had a right to go to the police
about Jack’s case or about Scott’s, said Fulton. The real cause of
her excommunication was that she had said things outside of her personal
knowledge. (This statement contradicted his own earlier statements,
statements by his counselors, and those of Bishop Hancock that she had
"embarassed" the Church by talking to the media.) He quoted
from her appeal to the First Presidency, in which she had written that
"perhaps Leon Fulton was involved in sexual abuse." He ignored
the fact that Merradyth had not made this statement until after she had
been excommunicated and that it therefore could not be an example of
moving beyond her knowledge in a way that the court found her guilty of.
Fulton claimed that the statement didn’t bother him "because I
know the truth, but it plants a seed."
Merradyth said that she did know about the
Campbell case from reading the court transcripts, which Fulton admitted
he had only "skimmed" and then passed on to "higher
authorities." Fulton insisted, "You keep saying that the
Church has come down on you because you reported the abuse. That’s not
Fulton further complained that their letters, both to
him and to the First Presidency, had been "very demanding and very
accusatory," that they had tried to put the Church "on
trial," and that they had made many statements that went beyond
their personal knowledge. A third complaint was that she had involved
nonmembers and that some of these nonmembers held dangerous
"feminist" opinions and that some of Merradyth’s supporters
in Utah believed that women should have the priesthood.
When Scott tried to explain that one reason for going
outside the Church had been the comparative lack of belief within the
Church for him, "speaking as a victim," Fulton interrupted
him: "You keep making that statement, Scott, and you seem to think
that no one in the Church cares. Elder Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve
finds that the most disturbing part of this whole affair—the Church
absolutely does care. It’s doing what it finds appropriate. Elder
Faust finds it so absurd that anyone would make a statement that the
Church doesn’t care.
Merradyth protested, "I don’t know how they
can say they care when they don’t know what the facts are. I know what
the court documents say, I know what the divorce proceedings say, I know
what I think, what I felt, what I watched."
Fulton interrupted her to say there was no point in
playing "ring around the rosies." The meeting was over. They
have not seen Fulton or talked with him since.
Mary’s appeals followed a similar path. After Leon
Fulton rejected her appeal, she wrote to the First Presidency on 23
October 1994, with copies to Neal Hancock, Leon Fulton, the Boy Scouts
of America, the state attorney general, and Ernest J. Istook, U.S.
Congressman, District 5, Oklahoma. Addressing it sardonically to
"Dear Priesthood Leaders (or anyone with a pulse)," she wrote
a strongly worded appeal:
Does anyone out there care anything about young
children and the growing problem of sexual molestation by perverted
priesthood leaders? Various Mormon leader/advisors assigned to our
youth have access to our children through Scouting and other
Church-sponsored activities, not one of [whom] have had a criminal
background check as required by other organizations in many states as
a means of identifying past offenders and as a serious reminder to
potential offenders of the consequence of discovery of child sexual
The "unfairness in procedure" begins with
your preventing me from working directly with Bishop Neal Hancock to
stop known pedophiles operating in Oklahoma City Silver Ward. Instead
he was appointed to strike down my affiliation with the Church with
the "excommunication hatchet" to keep the Church
"safe" from a mother crying out in desperate alarm.
We had agreed not to create any unnecessary
publicity. In [turn], you agreed to spend many heart-searching hours
prayerfully interviewing other suspected offenders and victims. This
was to be accomplished, no matter how horrifying the outcome: no
sugar-coated cover-up and no inappropriate action to be taken without
I have provided evidence as requested by Bishop
Hancock. His verbal response to me was: "I know Campbell is
dangerous to children. Powell is definitely dangerous to children. Now
go and find any evidence you can about Earl Harrison being an
offender." Let’s try to stick to the real issue here. Bishop
Hancock was delegated the responsibility by Stake President Leon
Marshall Fulton to excommunicate me for apostasy. There never was an
apostasy problem, was there? The problem stems from failure to protect
our children from deviant behavior perpetrated by priesthood leaders.
Now the "system," including Bishop
Hancock, has turned against me so [that] we can no longer work
together for a common good. You have further removed my freedom of
speech via excommunication. You have violated federal and civil laws.
You make sure no other member parents are warned of the problem. You
sustain offending leaders by allowing them to function in their
assignments. Mean[while], our children are sexually victimized and
mothers are ordered by presiding priesthood leaders to remain silent
and allow God’s anointed and appointed to mangle the truth in an
orchestrated effort to protect the Church image.
There was nothing wrong with the witnesses I
requested to be at the proceedings. Bishop Hancock disallowed each and
every one, simply stating that, "Your witnesses would only know
about the molestation issue and not about your apostasy. Their
testimony would be irrelevant." No one knows about my apostasy
because there was none. There were no witnesses to the contrary. But
Bishop Hancock along with his entourage of accomplices, knowingly or
unknowingly are freely able to continue lining up children for the
disgusting convenience of the offenders.
You who are the enablers think [that] because you
toss me out of the Church you’re free to allow Stanley Dennis
Powell, Peter Vaughn Campbell, and Earl V. Harrison to have free rein
to make contacts with our children. The leaders who are involved in
this diabolical behavior are either direct participants or are their
accomplices to the crime.
Melvin Knott, Powell’s former bishop, knew about
Powell’s homosexual appetite and previous activity. Others who knew
there was a serious problem with Powell’s character are Carter
Green, high priest group leader; Henry Butler, another former bishop,
Gordon Bell, executive secretary, Leon Marshall Fulton, stake
president, Curtis James McLean and Gerald Putnam, former stake
presidents. I’m sure there were others as well.
Oklahoma City Silver Ward leaders slandered me on a
television news interview by referring to me and discounting the truth
with the remark, "Consider the source." You who are guilty
will be exposed and held accountable to the community, the Church, and
our family. And you will most assuredly answer to God, but that will
be after you’ve answered to the children who have been victimized.
Like Merradyth, Mary signed herself, "Mother in
Zion and true follower of Jesus Christ." Like Merradyth’s, her
appeal was rejected.