Chapter 10
Home Up

VOLUME 1, 1995



The act of voting not to sustain the stake presidency, since Stan Powell was still the executive secretary, was a turning point for Jack and Merradyth. The McCallisters felt that they could not condone what they perceived as the stake presidentís inaction

A cycle of ward conferences was beginning; and on 12 September 1993, the McCallisters attended the meeting in Scottís ward, Edmond Second Ward, where, according to custom, the general and local officers would be presented for the sustaining vote of the members and speak during the time normally devoted to Sunday School and sacrament meeting. Merradyth and Jack sat with Tara, who was holding her newborn son, Skyler. Scott, Barrett, and Tennille sat in the rear overflow. When the names of the stake presidency were read, they stood and raised their hands when the opposing vote was called for. Because Powellís name, as executive secretary, was not read separately, they focused their opposing vote on the men who had called him.

Their vote was noted and they were asked to meet with the stake presidency after the meeting. When Leon Fulton spoke, he delivered a blistering set of new rules designed to root out sexual sins, which he listed and described in graphic detail. He threatened that any young man or woman who did not voluntarily confess sexual transgressions to him before leaving for a mission or for school would be returned to himówithout exceptionsóif their sin was discovered. They would be on probation for a year, not allowed to return until he considered their repentance complete, not only for the sexual activity but also for lying to the priesthood leader in an interview. He further announced that these new rules had come "straight from Church headquarters" and would be strictly enforced but, rather confusingly, also said, "I donít care how other leaders operate in other areas because God has called me to preside over this stake and Iím speaking by revelation and authority."

The McCallisters were not the only members who were surprised at his harshness and the sexual explicitness of his language in a meeting attended by youngsters down to age twelve, but Jack, stiff with outrage, described his reaction in a letter on "prevention of child sexual abuse by priesthood leaders" four days later (16 September 1993) that he sent to Leon Fulton with copies to the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve with particular attention to Elder James E. Faust, the Office of the Presiding Bishopric, and Neal Hancock. He stated:

I attended a ward conference... last Sunday. President Leon Fulton outlined for parents and youth twelve and over his concern [about] and definition of personal moral worthiness. He described how he plans to strictly enforce the morality code in an effort to reverse the current trend toward sexual promiscuity by in-depth, graphic, personal interviews to qualify individuals [as] worthy or unworthy.

He publicly defined adultery and fornication to mean mutual masturbation, traditional vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral-genital intercourse [between unmarried persons].

I find this topic and these specific subjects to be totally inappropriate for priesthood leaders to discuss in detail while privately conducting interviews with members of the Church and especially youth. There is a greater potential for harm done from the results of the interview than the rewards of discovering sexual activity.

This method of establishing a criterion for worthiness to participate in social activities, educational opportunities, missionary labor, and temple worship have the appearance of verbal sexual harassment or its potential. Unfortunately, by my own personal experience and that of other family members, we have found [that] the obstacle of qualifying for participation via these personal worthiness interviews has simply been the gateway to a pervertís position of power in the priesthood through mind control.

Therefore, I will not tolerate anyone, in or out of the Church, promoting the discussion of personal sexual issues with any of my family members without my prior knowledge and consent. If so, I will immediately bring the strictest criminal charges applicable under law against the offending party and demand prosecution by the district attorney.

By then, the McCallisters had already chalked up their third negative experience with Leon Fulton. In addition to the imbroglio over the girlsí camp incident and what they felt was dismissive treatment of Scottís report, the meeting after ward conference had not gone well. Present in that meeting were Jack and Merradyth, Merrill and Meg Woodford, Tara McCallister Godwin, and two or three other supporters, not all of whom had voted not to sustain the stake presidency.

Fulton conducted most of the meeting standing, his arms folded across his chest or fists perched on his hips. His opening statement was the demand, "What are you doing here? What are you even doing in this building? You donít belong here."

During the meeting, Merradyth and Jack saw Merrill, under the withering barrage of scorn and threats, slump lower in his seat, his head sinking on his chest. Then he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his head hanging. His face turned gray. "It looked like he was just curling up into a fetal position before our eyes," she recalled indignantly. Jack remember Fultonís announcement that Jack alone was responsible if anyone suffered over this issue. Jack was strangling on Merrillís suffering. He stood up to physically draw Fultonís fire away from the defenseless and shame-oppressed Merrill. "Is there anything else you have to say to me personally before I leave?" he announced. "Iíve already said everything I have to say to you.

Arnie Clinton yelled at Jack to sit down and listen to President Fulton. "Youíve betrayed my friendship," he charged. Jack didnít have any idea what Clinton meantóstill doesnítóbut he did not sit down.

Fulton glared at Jack: "Iíve cut you all the slack Iím going to because of your mental condition," he snapped. "I just want to know one thing. Are you going to stop talking to other members of the Church about this before it splits the stake apart or am I going to draw up the papers to have you excommunicated?"

Jack, keeping a tight leash on his temper, replied, "Let me put it in a positive way. Iíll talk to whomever, whenever, about whatever I choose. Does that answer your question?"

"Fine," rasped Fulton. "Iíll start the process."

"Donít let anything slow you down," invited Jack. "The sooner the better."

Fulton looked at Merradyth, then demanded, "Jack, do you speak for your family, too?"

Jack, angered at Fultonís bullying and intimidation, answered flatly, "Contrary to Mormon tradition, Merradyth is capable of speaking for herself. I honor her right to do that She will stay in this meeting for as long as she chooses and say whatever she chooses."

Then Jack walked out. He had surprised himself by his behavior and he was surprised at how it felt. "I had no fear. I had no shame. I had openly defied brute, tyrannical authority for the first time in my life, and it felt great! I felt glad to be alive. I had broken through my own personal shame barrier, and the sonic boom echoed in my ears as I walked down the hall."

He sat in the car waiting for Merradyth to come out. The minutes passed. Merradyth didnít come out for another hour. By then, Jack was frantic and sick with anxiety. "I felt as if Iíd escaped, leaving my loved ones behind in the enemyís hands," he recalled. And that was about what had happened. Merradyth, terrified of male authority her whole life, was desperate to appease Fulton. Excommunication for herself or for Jack, ostracism for their children, and the dissolution of their temple marriage was her worst nightmare. She and Tara "pled with Fulton for mercy, begging for Jackís soul." Furthermore, unlike Jack, she believed that for some inexplicable reason, Fulton simply hadnít understood the situationóthat when he understood, he would act. Surely she could find a way to explain it to him more clearly. Surely there was one piece of evidence she was overlooking that would make everything perfectly clear to him. She was buying time by agreeing to submit until things clicked with Fulton.

It was an illusion Jack had given up. In the car, he reassured her: "You need to make your own decisions, Merradyth, independent of mine. Iím through being the patriarch. I wonít ever try to control you again. But nobody is going to use you or the children to control me, either. I wonít be silenced again. My personal integrity and protecting children comes first." He looked squarely at her. "It comes ahead of my membership. It comes ahead of every relationship. Do you understand?"

Merradyth swallowed and nodded. How could they end up on opposite sides? But Jackís integrity came first. When Merradyth wrote her letter to President Hinckley in March 1994, her report of this meeting reveals her sense of betrayal:

We felt as if there was no spirit of love, no mantle of compassion and discernment. We felt only contempt for us [from] President Fulton.... He told us we had "crucified an innocent man and destroyed his family. We had slandered him [Powell] without any proof except for a single witness (our son). They couldnít accept Scottís word over that of a priesthood leader held in high esteem. We were guilty of splitting the stake apart. Powell was one of his sheep, too. He had denied doing anything wrong. There was nothing further that could be done."

Are we not some of his sheep too?

Jack came home still focused intensely on his new-found resolve. It had taken weeks of soul searching and his best efforts at meditation before the "no vote" to identify his spiritual path and search for inner strength. He was not just engaging in shoving games with President Fulton. Instead, he was learning to follow his own inner voice without official, external approval. He wrote a strong memo to President Fulton that same afternoon, identifying himself as a "man without a God, a country or a Church."

You and Clinton donít intimidate me in the least with your pious threats of condemning my soul to eternal damnation with a Church court. Iím not afraid of hell because Iíve lived there for thirty years, thanks to the power of the priesthood in my life.... Iíd rather take my chances in hell than this organization where righteousness by appearance and position by politics is the name of the game.

My wife and daughter donít speak for me. This is between you and me. I donít trust or respect either of you after today. Donít ever pretend to be my friend again, or "give me a lot of leeway because of my mental condition." Iíve already been betrayed by you three times with your pronouncements of hypocrisy. Thatís enough for me. I want out of this church the quickest way I can. Whereís the form, the sooner the better?

You have such a keen grasp for what you perceive as damaged lives beyond repair via gossip but you have no clue what a damaged life from the perversion of sexual abuse is. I was killed when I was fifteen years old by the "laying on of hands" and the formality of a burial just hasnít happened yet. Thereís nothing you could do to me that could possibly be worse than what the priesthood in action has already done to me.

Iím not guilty of anything you have accused me of [basically, "talking to members"] since the original meeting on Friday. Iím only ashamed now for what I havenít done. I havenít screamed loud enough, long enough, or to enough people.

... While you and Clinton were out saving souls for two years on your missions, all white and tidy, I went to Vietnam because I was unworthy to serve, thanks to a thoughtful bishopís intervention in my life....

Itís the same betrayal all over again. You donít have the guts to stand up to Powell. You donít care how many boys he screws as long as nobody makes waves and everything looks proper from the outside. You donít want to believe what happened to Scott was true because you canít handle raw, vulgar truth. Maybe if you had been the one screwed by Powell or your own bishop as a kid you would have the privilege of writing this letter instead of me. You could feel screwed again by the big cheesy leaders that strut around with everything under control in a clean gospel-wrapped package where prayer, scripture study, and family home evening solve or prevent all of lifeís messy, little problems or they donít exist. Go ahead. Look the other way. Apparently God has.

You donít scare me.

The other side of Jackís anger was self-destructive depression; that night, he checked himself into the Veterans Administration hospital, afraid that he was slipping into a suicidal depression.

Despite Merradythís efforts to placate President Fulton, something in the meeting was a turning point for her, too. She later told Meg, "As I watched Merrill shrivel and curl up right in front of our eyes, I made this resolve: I will not let this happen. I will fight for the survivors. I will go over the stake presidencyís heads. I will not let this be a secret." Meg made some calls to LDS Social Services and confirmed the authenticity of the Pace memo but withdrew public support: her family situation and her husbandís emotional equilibrium were too precarious for a public battle.

Jack and Merradyth had sent a copy of their letter to Elder James E. Faust, then an apostle and currently a member of the First Presidency, because he was attending their regional conference in October 1993. Merradyth stood in an island of isolation while Powell, who was in charge of security with the Oklahoma City police department, was masterfully "in charge." She watched him hug members and heard him ask earnestly, "You believe me, donít you?"

In October 1993, Jack and Merradyth learned more about the "crazy lady" that Leon Fulton had used as such a contemptuous example.1 It was their own former neighbor and ward member, Roseanne Hales Campbell. She had moved to Texas in the summer of 1992 and divorced her husband Peter, who was still in the ward. It was "too bad," people agreed. They seemed like such a nice young couple. And such sweet children. They did not know that Roseanne Hales was battling for her own soul and those of her five children against the darkest kind of nightmare, Satanic ritual abuse.

1By Rosanneís own account, she had never talked with Leon Fulton nor had he ever talked with her before, during, or after the divorce.