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Another Child Abuse Survivor Tells Mormons To Go To Police, Not Their Bishop

A photo of Kristy Johnson.
Lee Hale
Kristy Johnson said that each time she told her bishop of the abuse, her father would just get re-assigned to another city.

The documentary Glass Temples is having its Utah premier Thursday night. The film examines how leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mishandled yet another case of child abuse.

The subject of the film, Kristy Johnson, said her father molested and raped her and her two sisters while they were growing up. At the time, her father was employed by the LDS Church as a religious instructor and seminary teacher.


Johnson said each time she or her mother told a church leader about the abuse, her father would simply get transferred to a different city and the abuse would continue.

Looking back, Johnson wishes she would have gone to the police immediately.

“It just never entered my mind," Johnson said. "Because being raised Mormon, these bishops and leaders are like God, they speak for God.”

Along with telling her story through a new documentary, Johnson is also suing her father for the years of abuse.

Her lawyer, Craig Vernon, said he hopes this case will encourage Mormon abuse victims to go straight to the police rather than their bishop.

“Bishops should be relieved of that duty," Vernon said. "I feel bad for bishops. They shouldn’t have to be in between all this.”

Vernon is also representing McKenna Denson who is currently suing the LDS Church. Denson said that while she was serving as a young missionary she was raped by her leader at the church’s Missionary Training Center in Provo.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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