Calgary

Court finds Mormon church blocked southern Alberta police investigation into sex abuse of young girls in 1980s

More than 30 years ago, the Mormon church participated in the cover-up of the sexual assault of several young girls in southern Alberta, instructing the abuser not to go to police, according to an Alberta judge who has rendered a decision in the case.

Warning: This story contains disturbing details that may not be appropriate for younger audiences

A 51-year-old man who can't be identified because of a court order was convicted last week of sexually assaulting children in the 1980s. (Google Street View )

More than 30 years ago, the Mormon church participated in the cover-up of the sexual assault of several young girls in southern Alberta, instructing the abuser not to go to police, according to an Alberta judge who has rendered a decision in the case.

These findings are laid out in the decision of Lethbridge Justice Johnna Kubik, who convicted the now 51-year-old man on two counts of sexual assault.

The abuse took place over a seven-year period between 1986 and 1993 when his victims were between the ages of eight and 13 years old.

The assaults included touching, oral sex and digital penetration.

A publication ban is in place on the man's identity in order to protect his victims. CBC News will call him M.

1987 confession

While on a mission with the Mormon church in 1987, M said he became overwhelmed by guilt regarding the abuse and confessed to a mission president as well as a bishop.

The two church leaders directed M to write letters of apology.

"The Accused was specifically advised by church authorities not to report the matter to police," Kubik wrote in her decision.

Eventually, M became a bishop in southern Alberta but never disclosed the sexual assaults to his stake president "because he had already dealt with these matters previously and had been told to forget them and to move on."

M "had no doubt in his mind that he was worthy to be a bishop," the judge wrote.

"His testimony in court demonstrated his view that the matter was closed for discussion; that he had paid the price already."

Victim reports M to police

But in 2016, when she learned M held a leadership role within the church, one of the women feared he would victimize other children and reported him to police. 

At that time, he was removed as a bishop.

Earlier this year, M was convicted of similar offences for committing crimes as a youth against three child victims. He was sentenced to two months in jail to be served on weekends.

This summer, M was tried as an adult for further crimes.

In finding him guilty of sexually assaulting two victims, Kubik said she was left with reasonable doubt and acquitted M on a charge relating to the third woman.

M admitted to the abuse of one of the victims, denied all abuse in connection with another and denied he'd assaulted the other after he turned 18.

Kubik will hear sentencing arguments from prosecutors Erin Olsen and Dawn Janecke as well as defence lawyer Robert Bissett in the new year.

M remains out on bail.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.