CASE REPORTS OF THE MORMON ALLIANCE
VOLUME 1, 1995
"BUT HE WAS THE BISHOP":
J. SCOTT McCALLISTER
Notes for Chapter 9.
Scott, like Jack, had tried hard to forget. Telling
was hard.1 With the memories came tears—tears
of shame, tears of anger. The abuse had begun in early 1985 when Scott
was fourteen and had lasted until he was twenty. Scott, speaking in a TV
interview, affirmed, when Powell was counseling him for "teenage
problems," "he kissed me on the lips all the time. He had me
up against the door all the time. He’d always want contact. He’d
take my shirt off and his shirt off. He’d want to be on the floor in
his office, holding me, being affectionate. Several times he had an
erection after being with me.... I was really scared."
During the weeks that Scott lived in the Powell home
in 1987, he recalls an intense relationship with Powell, one that looked
nurturing and attentive but which had a secret side. No one knew, he
thinks, although he noticed that "Sylvia would show resentment for
all the time, money, and attention [Powell] showed to me," and his
sister Amber has since said that she saw Powell kiss Scott on the lips
in a hidden recess during roadshow practice.
He spent a lot of time with me
during this period: out to eat; driving me to school, buying school
clothes, spending money. In return for his attention, he would kiss me
on the lips, hold me tight to him, including genital to genital direct
contact; [and] intimate massages.... He always wanted to take my shirt
off when we were together so he could touch my skin. We would snuggle
on his bed at home. He would give me kisses on the lips, hold me real
tight; ... and I could feel his erect penis.... When I lived with him,
he liked me to give him massages and massage him, sometimes only with
a towel [over him]. After a shower he would walk around nude in front
of me. No one would be home. I had taken a therapeutic massage class
to work as an athletic trainer. He wanted to see what techniques I had
learned to compare it with his own. When he would massage me it was a
sexual massage. I know the difference, even though he acted like it
Like Bishop Mercer, Bishop Powell also used the
excuse of "interviews" to sexually abuse the teenager:
He always waited to get close to me.
I would be his last appointment. He would [be] in the bishop’s
office at church on the floor with his back against the door. He would
sit with his legs spread apart. I would sit between his legs. (Scott
is demonstrating the position and starts to cry.) He would kiss me on
the lips and hug me.... When he would kiss me on the floor in the
bishop’s office, I would keep my teeth clenched to keep him from
slipping his tongue in my mouth. I felt his tongue.... This [happened]
for about six months two or three times a week....
I didn’t realize that what he was
doing was sexual abuse.… I thought that rape was the only type of
Also like Mercer, Powell had "reasons" to
explain his behavior. "Powell would say bizarre things to me like,
‘It was okay to masturbate but don’t have sex with a girl or you’ll
be kicked out of the Church.’ (Powell was constantly talking to me
about masturbating and assume[d] that I was rather than ask[ing] me if I
was." According to Scott, when Powell kissed the teenager, he would
say, "it’s okay, in our family we express affection for each
other by kissing on the lips.... I’m your bishop and I love you."
The litany that accompanied the caresses was: "It’s okay…. You
need to feel the love of a man toward you….I’m your bishop and I
love you." During the massages, Powell would say, "It’s okay
to give a massage like this to another man.... Relax and enjoy the
feeling of your body.... If you have an erection during the massage it’s
a perfectly normal sexual response. This is how my companions and I
massaged each other on my mission in England. I’m your bishop and I
love you." He frequently told Scott, "This is our secret
relationship and special love for each other."
The last encounter occurred, ironically enough, on
the Saturday of general conference when Scott was twenty, just before he
left on his mission.
He called me on the phone and said
he wanted me to come over to his house. I said I was busy. He said
just five minutes. I agreed. When I came to his house he opened the
front door with only his bathrobe on and said he wanted a massage. He
told me to take a shower, that we would give each other a massage. He
was home alone. We both had a shower. I gave him a massage and he gave
me one on his bed [in] the bedroom. After the massages he started
rolling me around on his bed and kissing me on the lips. We both had
on towels.... I was aware that he had an erection.... I got scared
what he was going to do next I said I had to go. He wanted me to stay.
He invited me to the general priesthood broadcast with him that was
going to be telecastfrom Salt Lake. I refused saying I had to go. He
wanted me to meet him later then but I didn’t and that was the last
Like Jack, Scott was overwhelmed with confusion.
"I didn’t know what was right. I thought he was my bishop, [that]
this might be okay. He told me to call him Dad. He told me that he
wanted to love me, to give me the love I never had." When a
reporter asked him why he allowed the caresses and kisses, Scott
struggled to explain the paralysis of ignorance and innocence: "I
didn’t realize what happened was wrong. ‘Well, isn’t the bishop
supposed to do that?’ At church we’re taught that we don’t have
any boundaries where the leaders are concerned. If it had been anybody
else, I would have punched him in the mouth and said, ‘No way! This is
weird, what you’re doing.’ But he was the bishop."
On one occasion, when a temple excursion was planned
for the ward’s youth, Scott didn’t feel worthy to go and resented
Powell’ s pressure to raise the statistics. "I remember the sun
shining on his face with his sunglasses on. He handed me a twenty dollar
bill with a big smile afterwards. It felt like he was giving me a doggie
biscuit. I had an empty feeling. He was very subtle. I thought he was my
friend. I liked the attention."
Scott also felt trapped and blackmailed:
I felt very uncomfortable to have
him attracted to me in a physical way. I felt I owed him affection for
all he was doing for me.... I felt I had a debt toward him.... I felt
like I was in a trap. I owed him. I was scared. He was waiting for me
to get excited and come on to him.... When I came home from my
two-year mission and reported to the high council I felt like I was
obligated to... pat him on the back publicly to give him recognition
[for]... money, clothes, food, a place to stay, rides to school.... I
was the problem child and he was the bishop.... I was scared to turn
him away when he wanted to show me attention. I was very confused
because in public he would always put me down with criticism in front
of my friends and make me feel stupid because I had trouble reading
very well. I thought he was right. I had a low self-image. In private
he would build me up, show all this affection.... He would tell me,
"I don’t waste my time on fools. You owe me. I’ve spent a lot
of time and money on you. You better show your respect by
When I was a senior in high school,
he would tell me what all I was going to do—go on a mission,
college, etc. It was a master-slave relationship. I left to go out to
Utah for nine months to get away from him. He used to loan Lincoln and
me money and [say] that if we didn’t pay it back he would sue us. I
was so scared that I kept the money hidden for a week without spending
it just so I could make sure I paid him back. He would try to get
Lincoln and me to compete with each other for his time and affection.
He would say things to make me wonder if I was doing enough for him in
return for all the stuff he had done for me.
Even after he returned from his mission, Scott says,
Powell would hug him and kiss him on the cheek at church, and try to get
him to come to the house. Scott always refused. "I have stayed
totally away from him. I know that if I showed the slightest interest in
him, he would respond just like he used to toward me."
Jack and Merradyth wonder if there might have been
more. Scott had unexplained white scars on his inner arms like acid
splashes, burns that he can’t remember getting. Did he inflict them on
himself when he was high on drugs? Or did a "friend" burn him
for fun when Scott was passed out from drugs or alcohol? Or perhaps was
ritual abuse involved? Scott doesn’t remember.
Doubting Scott’s story was simply not possible; but
now Jack and Merradyth faced the challenge of how best to approach the
situation. They consulted five different therapists during the summer2
to get help and find out what they should do. All of them said to
report the abuse to the state, even though it no longer fell under the
jurisdiction of the Division of Family Services, and also encouraged
them to report it to their ecclesiastical leaders.
Some have expressed disbelief that even obedient and
orthodox Mormon boys would tolerate fondling and sexual play from an
ecclesiastical leader under the guise of "worthiness
interviews." Of interest, then, is the following case study of a
"very obedient Mormon boy" included in Confronting Abuse (Deseret
Book, 1993). This man describes himself as one who "not only
followed ‘those in authority.’ I revered ‘those in
authority.’ The problem was, however, I never really had a good idea
of what ‘authority’ was." When this boy was sexually abused by
a Mormon school teacher at age sixteen, the teacher played on the boy’s
respect for all authority but specifically invoked the authority of a
bishop who was not even involved. The man reports:
I did not know what to do. He was,
after all, a teacher. He had authority.... My teacher
told me that he had talked to his bishop, and that his bishop had told
him that the incidents were all my fault I was told that; if I
ever said anything to anyone (and especially my bishop or my parents),
I would be excommunicated from the Church immediately and my family
would disown me because I had ruined my teacher’s life.
I was a "good" boy. I was
a model student. I was the picture of the young priesthood holder. I
was my parents’ pride and joy.
I was trapped.... Because of my
confusion, fear, and isolation, the abuse continued for an extended
period of time.
The boy, finally deciding he’d rather die than
allow the abuse to continue, ingeniously used the school mimeograph to
print a "rumor" about the teacher and left it in the school
bathroom where it was taken to the administration. The administration
and the teacher "hotly denied" the rumor, but the teacher left
the boy alone thereafter. The boy concocted an elliptical story of
"mutual masturbation" for the bishop so that he felt he could
leave on his mission; but he continued to suffer through his mission,
marriage, and family life. "The pain remained. I could never really
‘forget,’ nor could I truly function normally in public. I covered
my pain by being ‘bright,’ ‘cheerful,’ and ‘humorous.’ I was
the life of every social gathering. Outside I was a card. Inside, I was
bleeding." Fifteen years later, when he and his wife watched the
televised account of Mormon Senator Paula Hawkins’ report of being
incested by an uncle, he involuntarily blurted out his story to his
wife. She accepted what he said, expressed love and support, and helped
him begin to move toward recovery. He summarizes:
The hurt diminishes. The episode is
placed in proper perspective. You learn to forgive. But, despite all
of this, you never forget. Nor does the pain truly go away. It is just
something you learn to live with....
What do I want others to know about
sexual abuse? I want them to know how devastating it is. I want them
to know that it happens to young boys as well as young girls. I want
them to know that it happens within the Church and that, in a terribly
perverse way, church culture can be used by abusers to inculcate and
hide abuse. My abuser, for one, used the implicit authority of the
Church and possible expulsion from the Church community quite
effectively to hide his sin.
Children should never be
taught simply to "respect authority." Children need to know
that adults should not be obeyed in all circumstances, just because
they are older, a teacher, or even a Church leader. Children should be
taught that respect—and authority—are things that an individual
All of these details have their parallels in the
experiences of Scott and Jack McCallister with their respective
authority figures and abusers.
Jack, knowing that the ordeal had only just begun,
felt a deep need for solitude and introspection. He was in turmoil and
deep depression. "For the next ninety days, I just felt
paralyzed," Jack says. In early June, he went to Lake Arcadia, a
park in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area and camped there for almost
four weeks with the family visiting on weekends. He spent days watching
the sun glitter on the lake water while he tried to make his mind as
still as the lake’s surface so that he could commune directly with his
own soul and with God separately from the "chatter" of
"shoulds" and "oughts." He was starting again from
bedrock. When he returned home, it was with new clarity and focus.
Looking back on that period, he summarizes its lesson: "I stopped
trying to deny or dodge away from the pain. I accepted the pain. I
accepted that it was a familiar pain. I stopped wanting it to go away.
Instead, I wanted it to mean something. I wanted to be able to use it to
Merradyth felt both anger and hope. If Bishop Powell
had molested Scott, what guarantee was there that other boys had not
also been molested? Surely the stake leaders would act swiftly to
investigate such a report and protect the children. For weeks she burned
in the twin fires of anger and hope. During the rest of the summer, Jack
and Merradyth talked, fasted, prayed, studied, and tried to look
steadfastly into the future. Both of them were absolutely committed to
one unwavering principle: They would not abandon their children. They
would not deny or cover up the abuse.
On 30 August 1993, Jack and Merradyth took their
first active step. They collaborated on an open letter and sent it to
the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and Office of the Presiding
Bishopric. After summarizing Scott’s description of Powell’s sexual
abuse and emotional manipulation, Jack continued:4
I have cause to believe that Powell
is a serial pedophile5 selecting and
seducing his victims from among the youth of the Church, preying on
the most vulnerable, using priesthood authority as a deceptive vehicle
for perverted sexual activity.
I have reported this information to
five state-licensed social workers who have advised me to notify
Church authority of this deviant conduct and demand an immediate
investigation to determine further details and the full extent of the
harm done to other victims who have come into contact with Powell and
other co-conspirators in the state over the past years.
I suspect a conspiracy of sexual
perversion among priesthood leadership in general and a suppression of
evidence….Powell is currently serving as stake executive secretary.
I refuse to remain silent. I will no longer sustain any leader who
participates in this despicable conduct or ignores that the problem
exists. I realize [that in] exposing the personal behavior of those in
key leadership positions I may risk my own membership. I assure you
that the reward of truth and justice far outweigh any consequence that
could be imposed on me by this organization.
Jack described his own molestation as a youth by his
bishop and the resulting helplessness and emotional turmoil he felt.
I know the feeling of despair from
searching in vain for meaningful answers... and the depth of sadness
that goes unrecognized and unexpressed every day of my life. I know
the feeling of worthlessness, wondering if death can erase the pain of
the memories that are stained into the fabric of my soul.
I have a feeling of suspicion every
time I see a row of priesthood leaders with their white shirts and
ties, wearing their religious costumes that can so easily and falsely
symbolize purity and righteousness. I interpret the sights and sounds
of the priesthood as a force to guard against, a secret power silently
invading, then distorting, the human conscience in a plot to
deceptively manipulate others weaker than themselves. I never feel
safe or at peace, including times in the temple....
I have knowledge of other men who
were my best friends growing up in the same ward, who have admitted to
me that they have likewise been sexually abused by the same
perpetrator. I also have knowledge of still other men whose bishops
and Scout leaders abused them as well.
I am reporting this information
directly to the Church headquarters, expecting [that] immediate proper
action will be taken. I am testing the organization to see if it is
corrupted to the highest level. I have grown cynical about the
selection and supervision process of priesthood leaders who are
allowed to rule with absolute tyrannical power over the very members
they have been entrusted with a sacred duty to unselfishly care for.
Therefore, I demand swift
appropriate legal action to be taken that will expose pedophiles
within the entire Church organization, regardless of priesthood
authority or reputation, and protect all victims and future
generations of victims from this vile epidemic of human depr[avity]
from within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jack signed this letter, adding as titles:
"Father of ten precious children, former U.S. Marine Corps officer,
former LDS bishop, and current survivor of lewd sexual molestation as a
youth by my bishop."
One friend and supporter drew back at the paragraph
in Jack’s letter in which he said that stopping abuse was more
important than saving his membership. "You couldn’t have meant
that, Jack," she protested. "Your membership has to come
first." Jack remembers, "My answer exploded out of my mouth. I
said, ‘I meant every word of what I said. When Jesus was talking about
little children, he said, "Of such are the kingdom of God."
Children are the kingdom of God, not a church institution; and if
we don’t have that straight, we won’t be able to keep anything else
straight either. Membership in a church is not the top priority in my
life, and I’m thankful for that. The safety of children is my top
priority, and I want to be real clear on that. To me the kingdom of God
used to represent the church; maybe they were at one point. But when the
apostles got confused, Jesus set them straight by pointing to a child.
That’s who I’m following."’
During the first week in September, Jack also
notified the stake president, Leon Fulton, of Scott’s molestation and
Scott reported the molestation to the Department of Human Services. On
13 September he filed a complaint of lewd acts with a child against
Powell. The case was "investigated," but no charges were ever
filed. Merradyth and Jack shared copies of Jack’s letter with friends,
who formed an emotional support group for them.
The next step was for Scott to tell his story
directly to his priesthood leaders. This meeting occurred in early
September. Scott, Merradyth, and Jack met with President Fulton and
Arnold Clinton, the first counselor in the stake presidency and the
family’s former bishop. Jack felt both fear and hope as they drove to
the stake center:
Bishop Powell showed the same
pattern as Bishop Mercer: impeccable career, good family friend, our
home teacher, our attorney, beyond suspicion. He was also a great
intimidator. I knew if I confronted him, it probably wouldn’t be a
successful experience. If he’d been that successful at covering this
up, he wasn’t going to admit anything to me. But I fantasized that
if I went to President Fulton and he confronted Stan Powell,
then maybe Powell would say, "Oh, thank goodness. I’ve wanted
to stop. I’m glad somebody finally caught me. It’s horrible, and
here’s a list of the other boys I’ve abused, and here’s who
abused me and how I got started in the abuse, and here’s the
pattern." I saw it as a real opportunity. That’s how naive I
was. Besides, we felt [that] going to our local priesthood authority
was the appropriate thing to do. It was the order of the Church.
In the parking lot, Scott hesitated. His teen years
had been a patchwork of problems and confusion. He had left on his
mission as a troubled misfit. In contrast, his mission had been a
miracle time of clarity, purpose, and power. He had become a legend
among the other elders for his spirituality, his dedicated work, and his
phenomenal baptismal rate. After being snarled in conflicted
relationships with male authority figures in his life for years, Scott
had blossomed in the love, approval, and respect of his mission
president. He passionately desired to stay on the spiritual plane of his
mission. He desperately did not want to lose the momentum he felt he had
built up. He feared that reporting Bishop Powell’s sexual abuse would
return him to a world he hoped he had left behind forever.
Jack listened. He understood. Then he said, "I
hear what you’re saying, Scott. But no matter what your decision is, I’ve
got to go in. Maybe if my parents had confronted Bishop Mercer and
the Church leaders, this mess could have been cleaned up a generation
ago. I can’t tell you what it’s like to go in and report fairly
recently after it’s happened, but I can sure tell you the hell you’ll
live with for the next twenty-five years if you don’t."
Scott saw his father’s naked sincerity, but the
decisive factor for him was thinking about his brother Barrett—just
the age that Scott had been when his abuse had started. "I could
tell Barrett about Powell. I could warn him what to watch out for, what
to stay away from," remembers Scott. "But who can protect you
against the mind games of somebody who’s pretending to be your friend?
And suppose he leaves Barrett alone. Who else will he go after?"
So Scott got out of the car and walked into the stake
center with Jack and Merradyth. Jack remembers being stunned that Fulton’s
first question, even before hearing Scott’s story, was: "Who have
you talked to and what have you told them?" Jack had felt that
"I was doing for Scott what no one was able to do for me." He
could not believe what he was hearing as Fulton instructed them to keep
the information confidential, to tell members nothing of these
Scott told the stake presidency everything that had
happened. He demonstrated how Stan Powell would lock the office door and
then summon Scott to sit between his outstretched legs. Merradyth looked
at the faces of the three men, watching Scott’s face twist and crumple
with tears, as the memories flooded back. In their eyes, she read
complete conviction. "I knew that they knew that Scott was telling
the truth," she said. "It was so hard to be there, but we knew
we’d done the right thing, and we trusted that now they’d do the
But when Scott was finished, the mood in the room
changed sharply. Merradyth described the rest of the meeting in a March
1994 letter to Gordon B. Hinckley, then first counselor in the First
The details and manner of the
molestation were discounted and minimized by President Fulton. He told
us he couldn’t believe such a thing was true. He rationalized the
issue because about a year ago "some crazy lady told him
the wildest story about sexual acts of perversion perpetrated by local
Church members in good standing [so] he couldn’t give any
credibility to anyone telling stories of bizarre behavior like that
without hard evidence." We received no emotional support or the
validation we needed and deserved.
Later both Fulton and Clinton would tell Scott,
"We always believed you. Sure we did," but the McCallisters
left the meeting feeling only that they had been "shushed" and
had received no assurances of help, support, or intervention to protect
Fulton probably had failed to communicate adequately
his responsibility to investigate both sides, or they had heard only his
demand that they remain silent. Within a day or two, he met with Stan
Powell. A year later, in March 1994 as Merradyth’s excommunication was
pending, Clinton told Scott, "Stan basically told the same story as
you but he put a different interpretation on things, and I’ve probably
told you more than I should have."
Clinton had not been present at that meeting and was
presumably telling Scott what Fulton had told him. But only Fulton and
Powell know for sure. It is not known whether Clinton also met
separately with Powell, or whether Powell had follow-up meetings with
the full stake presidency. Since Fulton was under an ecclesiastical
obligation to preserve the confidentiality of his interview with Stanley
Powell, he was, in fact, limited in what he could say. It is unclear if
Fulton or any member of the stake presidency—or anyone else—asked
Powell whether he had ever had similar relationships with other boys
than Scott, whether they encouraged him to seek counseling, or whether
the statutes of Oklahoma required them to report abuse. Whatever
"interpretation" Powell may have put on the events, the events
themselves (kissing on the lips, full-body embraces, and nude and
semi-nude massages) seem clearly inappropriate between a bishop and a
teenage youth. Later, Fulton told newspaper reporters that "church
officials... investigated [Scott’s] alleged molestation and found no
evidence to substantiate the story of the boy who claimed a former
church deacon [sic] fondled him."6 Fulton
told Jack immediately after the interview that Powell had denied any
wrong-doing—a different version than Clinton’s to Scott in March
1994—and that "nothing can be done" without more
information. The encounter left the McCallisters with the clear feeling
that the stake presidency had believed Powell, their executive
secretary, not Scott, a returned missionary with a reputation of being
in trouble as a youth from a family with a history of financial and
It was difficult from that time on for the
McCallisters to trust President Fulton and, as time passed, they became
increasingly distanced from him. The McCallisters do not wish to leave
the impression that they consider Fulton to be evil and unfeeling. They
do not deny that other stake members have good experiences with him or
that he is a competent administrator. One member of President Fulton’s
stake, posting on the internet in March 1996, considered Fulton to be a
"very people-oriented man, very kind and caring of
individuals" and praised his restraint in not taking action without
"two witnesses with immediate knowledge of the alleged sexual abuse
who would come forward and testify against Powell." Fulton had
personally told this individual that this was why he did not take action
against Powell at the time of Scott’s complaint. He had also
"recently" sponsored a leadership meeting in the stake
emphasizing the need to report child abuse "immediately" to
the "appropriate civil authorities."7
The McCallisters do not deny the accuracy of this member’s
perception but remain baffled by Fulton’s hostility and anger
manifested toward them. It was a shattering time as the family absorbed
this emotional blow—not only Scott’s disclosure of abuse but the
unbelievable fact that their ecclesiastical leaders didn’t believe
Scott and Jack.
Paralleling these events came the response to Jack
and Merradyth’s August letter to the First Presidency. It was not what
they hoped for. Someone—who was never clear to them but presumably the
First Presidency through channels—assigned Gerald Putnam, former
president of Oklahoma City Park Stake and newly appointed Regional
Representative in the area that included Abilene, Texas, to
"investigate" Scott’s complaint against Powell with the
assistance of high councilor Albert Webster, (Putnam resides in Edmond,
Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma City Park Stake.)
During the month of November, Putnam and Webster
talked with Scott, Merradyth, Jack and, presumably (they’re not sure)
Stan Powell. Scott related in detail what Stan Powell had done to him,
and Webster told him, "If you don’t feel comfortable looking
Powell in the eye at church, you shouldn’t come to church until you
can. You need to learn to forgive and get on with your life."
Jack tried to put Scott’s abuse in the broader
context. He pled with Putnam to use his influence in Salt Lake City to
take steps to curb the problems of inappropriate worthiness interviews.
"Scott is the second generation of sexual abuse during priesthood
interviews in one family," he insisted. "This is a
Putnam brushed off his concerns. "We tell all of
our leaders over and over again how to conduct these interviews. I don’t
know what else we can do."
Jack countered, "You’re not telling the right
people. Tell the members directly what their rights are. Tell members
what leaders are allowed to do and ask. Tell them what to do if their
rights are violated, who they can report to. Post a Bill of Members’
Rights on the door."
Putnam became irritated, "We couldn’t do
anything like that without being directed to do it by the prophet."
"We need a policy change," Jack persisted.
"No closed door interviews. Interview spouses together or let the
parent attend with the child."
Putnam announced authoritatively: "We don’t
tell our leaders what to do. We follow their direction. They have not
directed us to make any changes. When they’re inspired by God, they’ll
let us know through proper priesthood channels."
Jack tried another tack. Listening to Healing from
Sexual Abuse: Eight Messages for Survivors, Family, and Leaders (Deseret
Book, 1993), an audio-tape recording by Chieko N. Okazaki, had given
them "the only comfort and encouragement we felt that we received
from any church official. She alone radiated understanding of a victim’s
devastation. She alone communicated love and healing energy." Jack
told Putnam how much he appreciated her willingness to address the
subject in a way he had never heard a priesthood leader do. As a
survivor, he endorsed her report as helpful. He begged Putnam to listen
to the tape. "All church leaders should listen to her before they
try to use the traditional authoritarian priesthood interview techniques
that just retraumatize the victim," he urged.
Putnam was reluctant to accept the tape. "She’s
only expressing her personal opinion," he warned. "Nothing she
says is the official policy of the Church. God speaks through the priesthood
line of authority, beginning with the Prophet."
Finally Putnam agreed to listen to the tape and said
he would get back to Jack. He never did.
It seems ludicrous that anyone would
let a used car salesman ask about masturbation, precocious and delayed
puberty, sexual victimization and abuse, transsexualism, transvestism,
homosexual and bisexual behavior, nonmarital sexual behavior, and
deviant arousal patterns. But put him behind a desk in a white shirt
and tie with "Bishop" on the door and he can ask your child
about masturbation, mutual masturbation, fondling, oral sex, anal sex,
and vaginal/penal intercourse. Any "yes" answer could be
followed up by "with whom?" "where?" when?"
"how often?" and "did you enjoy it?"
Standard Church policy is that two
priesthood officers must be present to handle Church funds, a check
and balance system to prevent financial error and inhibit the
temptation to steal. And the Church conducts regular financial audits.
How many priesthood officers are required to conduct a personal
worthiness interview with a youth? One. And there are no procedures
for auditing the actions of these leaders for inappropriate behavior.
Merradyth, who had trusted that Brother Putnam would
get to the bottom of things, was greatly disillusioned by "this
bitsy investigation." Putnam told the McCallisters’ that he was
not going to "pry" for details unless youth volunteered them.
The McCallisters feel that he made few efforts to invite such
volunteering or even let Scott’s friends know that they could talk
to him. He assured the McCallisters that he had talked to other boys and
there "just wasn’t anything," even though he admitted that
one boy, after talking to Powell, "would only answer yes or no
questions." The McCallisters feel that he and Webster made no
effort to inform themselves on the general problem of sexual abuse.
Putnam never initiated a contact in any way from that point on.
Merradyth "chased him on the phone, made appointments for him with
the police investigators, gave him copies of the Campbell court records,
and gave him lists of boys we had already talked to or tried to talk to.
He was so deadpan and unresponsive." After repeated calls, he gave
her a brief and discouraging statement that shut off dialogue:
"There are no reports of abuse from the boys in the ward; nothing
more can be done." He gave them no copy of his report although they
later learned that he had given it to the stake president in December
1993. Later, the McCallisters heard that Putnam had reportedly warned
his successor as stake president, Curtis James McLean, that Powell
"had a problem." McLean had called Powell to be bishop, then
released him suddenly.
During the spring of 1994, the McCallisters heard
from several sources that Putnam thought Scott was lying. Jack reported
that a friend who had talked to Putnam had told her, "The world is
over there (holding out one hand) and the Church is over here (holding
out the other). The Lord reveals his secrets to the prophet and the
prophet reveals them to the Church. There’s no need for the members of
the Church to reveal anything to the world, and the world doesn’t have
anything to reveal to the Church. The Lord will take care of things in
his own time." This position failed to comfort the McCallisters.
Jack summarized the meeting with Putnam: "We’re
dealing with a generational pattern here, but Putnam discounted it. He
didn’t want to see any connections between what happened to me and
what happened to Scott. He and Webster didn’t genuinely want to know,
and neither did anyone else. The only list they wanted us to make was
who else we’d told. They should have been talking to other people my
age and Scott’s age. The investigation should have been out in the
open so that people would feel safe about coming forward."
Meg Woodford, Merrill’s wife, initiated a contact
with Putnam but was also disappointed:
All of these guys are friends of
his. How can he be unbiased? It puts him in an awkward position. He’s
supposed to be investigating, but he hasn’t talked to anybody I
know. What exactly is he investigating? Who is he talking to? I
offered to buy him a plane ticket, to drive him to Salt Lake, whatever
it takes. He laughed and said, "You know, sister, I love ya, the
Lord loves ya, this is all going to be taken care of in his time. Don’t
let anyone or anything come between you and your testimony."
Well, I’m not going to. We covenant not to speak ill of the Lord’s
anointed, but why is there a double standard? Why do the rules apply
to members and not to leaders?
Leon Fulton repeatedly insisted that Putnam had made
a report that had been accepted as reliable; this report did not
recommend that any action be taken.
Merradyth’s letter to President Hinckley outlines
the next steps they took:
At the same time we also wrote you a
letter [Jack’s letter of 30 August 1993] explaining the details of
the situation and asking for direct intervention and investigation
into the matter from Church headquarters. We heard nothing, only
silence. Our pain increased. We talked with other member parents to
see if they were aware of anything that had happened to their family
members. We formed an emotional support group for survivors of sexual
On 10 September, Fulton made a stormy telephone call
to Jack, threatening to excommunicate him if he didn’t stop talking
about his and Scott’s sexual abuse. He said he
would hold me personally responsible
for the damage done to the Church’s image, and the ultimate sin
would be on my head for any Church member that fell away or was
disciplined because of involvement in this issue.
"I don’t agree with your
opinion about this situation," rejoined Jack.
Sputtered Fulton, "I’m
speaking as your official priesthood authority. It’s more than my
I told him I didn’t accept his
opinion that he was my priesthood authority, nor was I accountable for
what others chose to do or not do. We’re supposed to be accountable
for our own actions.
Fulton repeated, "I’ve warned
you. There will be severe consequences to your eternal
"My salvation is not the issue
I’m concerned about here," said Jack. "The issue is
protecting our children from sexual abuse perpetrated by perverted
Enraged, Fulton announced, "I
have authority from God over this matter. You have no authority."
"I don’t need any authority
from God to speak out to protect the children," Jack insisted.
"I’m a father. They’re my children."
That was the end of the phone call, but others
called. People who had been supportive up to that point said their
bishops or the stake president had called them on the carpet, warning
them to stay out of this issue or lose their temple recommends. Some had
been threatened with excommunication if they did not immediately and
permanently disassociate themselves from the McCallister. Person after
person said, "I just can’t face that." Jack reflects:
I couldn’t be shamed or scared
back into spiritual submission, but not because of any extraordinary
courage or altruism on my part. My motivation was simple. It hurt too
much to endure for even one more minute. It hurt more than I could
stand and more than the priesthood leaders over me could control. I
was desperate for some kind of relief and closure from my own sexual
abuse. Knowing about Scott’s ordeal fueled my intense desire to
confront the leaders for his sake. How had the Savior’s gentle
invitation to "come, follow me" been turned into a
dictatorial ultimatum: "Follow the Brethren or else!"?
Notes for Chapter 9.
(Click on the Back button to return to the reference.
descriptive information which follows comes from the transcript of Scott’s
taped report to his parents (not dated) and another version, dated 30
August 1993 and mailed as an open letter from Jack to the First
Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and Office of the Presiding Bishopric;
typescript, ellipses omitted. An abbreviated version appears in the
complaint that Scott filed with the police department 13 September 1993
with additions on 5 October 1994. His 1994 additions came after
recovering memories in therapy of Powell raping him. Also on 5 October
1994, "after much thought and prayer," Jack, Merradyth, and
Tara filed a complaint under the same case number against Gordon B.
Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, Congressman Ernest Istook, the stake
presidency (Leon Fulton, Arnold Clinton, and Calvin Fleming), Bishop
Neal Hancock, regional representative Gerald Putnam, former stake
president Curtis James McLean, the senior high councilor of Park Stake,
and Elder Mack Lawrence, president of the North America Southwest Area,
for failure to report child sexual abuse. Newspaper accounts include
both quotations from the complaint and from interviews with Scott. Scott
was also interviewed by KFOR-TV, Channel 4 in Oklahoma City as part of
the five-part investigative report by Brad Edwards, "Are the
Children Lying?"; videotape in my possession.
therapists were Ron Marlett, a professional therapist; Lyle Burrup, the
LDSSS counselor; Ed Houcklatubbe, a counselor in the Veterans
Administration; a Mormon woman therapist who saw them only a couple of
times and stopped abruptly as their disillusionment with the stake
president increased, and a caseworker from Canadian County Department of
"‘What Survivors of Abuse Want Others to Know: A Guide to Their
Pain," Confronting Abuse: An LDS Perspective on Understanding
and Healing Emotional, Physical, Sexual, Psychological, and Spiritual
Abuse, edited by Anne L. Horton, B. Kent Harrison, and Barry L.
Johnson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 69-70.
of paragraphs omitted.
the McCallisters used this term frequently in referring to Powell, the
term technically refers to attraction to preadolescents, not usually
Farley, "Allegations Spur Violence Against Church," The
Surrey: A Special Edition Published by the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette,
 February 1994, pp. 1-2.
withheld, Internet transmission, 22 March 1996, used by permission.