Wife Sues Church After Clergy Reported Husband For Sexual Abuse

Timothy Samuel Johnson reportedly told a church panel about the molestation in 2016 to “repent for his sins” under the eyes of God and to seek spiritual healing “to bring peace within his life and family.”

He was arrested, charged and ultimately convicted in 2018 of four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.

The Salem Statesman-Journal reports:

“The man's confession was meant to be confidential, said the family's attorney Bill Brandt. He said local clergy's actions "totally violated church policy."...
"It's been devasting on the family," Brandt said. "They lost a husband and a father."...
Johnson, 47, was arrested in 2017 on charges of first-degree sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful sexual penetration for sexually abusing a girl under the age of 16. 
He later pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. 
Two years later, his wife filed the lawsuit against the church accusing the clergy of breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and interference with prospective economic advantage. Four of his children are also named as plaintiffs. 

The suit seeks $9.5 million for the family’s emotional distress and lost income and $40,000 for the money spent on a criminal defense lawyer to represent the husband on the child molestation charges.

The Oregonian reports: “the LDS church said in a statement that one of its top priorities is “protecting victims and ensuring proper reporting."

A church spokesman says “the Church teaches that leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities.In some circumstances, those obligations may be governed by their professional duty and in others by their role as clergy. The Church has a 24-hour abuse help line to help leaders understand and meet both their professional and ecclesiastical obligations to report abuse. We are grateful for the efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and pursue justice for those who were abused.”

The Oregonian also points out that the clergy member who reported the abuse outlined in this lawsuit, Brian Saari, is a pharmacist and pharmacists also are listed as mandatory reporters of child abuse in Oregon -- whether they’re on the job or not when they learn about alleged abuse.

David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, responded saying clergy member who tipped off investigators should be thanked for doing the right thing. Clohessy says “it’s not just a parent’s job to protect their kids from predators, it’s the job of every single adult.So adults who do put the safety of kids first should be applauded not penalized.”

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