Chapter 9
Home Up

VOLUME 1, 1995

Chapter 9

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 wasn’t.

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 sexual abuse.

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 time.

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 obedience."

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 earns.3

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 help others."

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 allegations.

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 right thing."

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 Presidency:

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 other youth.

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 emotional instability.

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 serious problem."

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.

Jack muses:

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 abuse.

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 ‘opinion."’

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 salvation."

"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 priesthood leaders."

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.

1The 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.

2These 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 Human Services.

3Anonymous, "‘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.

4Numbering of paragraphs omitted.

5Although the McCallisters used this term frequently in referring to Powell, the term technically refers to attraction to preadolescents, not usually teenagers.

6Tim Farley, "Allegations Spur Violence Against Church," The Surrey: A Special Edition Published by the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette, [26] February 1994, pp. 1-2.

7Name withheld, Internet transmission, 22 March 1996, used by permission.