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Church of Jesus Christ Responds to New Sex Abuse Investigation

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A new investigation by the Associated Press claims The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prioritizes a “risk management playbook” designed to keep sexual abuse cases secret. 

The current investigation focuses on the case of Chelsea Goodrich, whose father John Goodrich “routinely slipped into bed with her while he was aroused.” John had confessed to his Latter-day Saint bishop about the abuse in 2015. 

Chelsea Goodrich | AP Photo/Jason Dearen

“With his family and marriage in turmoil, John revealed details of his relationship with Chelsea to visiting relatives, according to a written statement from the relatives which was ultimately submitted to authorities,” the AP wrote. “They urged him to go to the police. When John said he’d rather talk with a bishop, the Goodrich relatives drove him to Miller’s home, where John made his confession.”

Less than a year later, John was arrested as Chelsea and relatives took recordings and other documentation of the abuse to the authorities. 

It was at this time that Chelsea contacted Paul Rytting, the head of the Church’s Risk Management Division, to try to allow Bishop Miller to testify against her father. It also claims other confessions had been made to Church leaders.

According to the claims, the Church discouraged Miller from testifying while also providing a monetary settlement to Chelsea. Ultimately, without Miller’s testimony, the case was dropped and John Goodrich remains a free man. 

The Church has released a statement to media responding to the investigation. It reads:

“The abuse of a child or any other individual is inexcusable. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes this, teaches this, and dedicates tremendous resources and efforts to prevent, report and address abuse. Our hearts break for this survivor and all survivors of abuse.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints terminated the perpetrator’s membership eight years ago, in October 2015, when it learned of the abuse. He has not been readmitted to Church membership. Claims that he confessed to a bishop prior to 2015 are false.

His communications with his bishop were protected by Idaho state law. Only the perpetrator could release the bishop from his obligation under the clergy penitent privilege and he refused to do so. The bishop was subpoenaed to testify in this case, but prosecutors released the subpoena, and he was not recalled to testify. The Church had no role in influencing the prosecuting attorney to dismiss the criminal case. Questions about the status of the criminal case should be directed to local prosecutors.

In 2017, the Church agreed to settle a civil claim made by the survivor. Nothing in the agreement kept her from talking about the abuse she suffered or the facts of the case itself with anyone. Both parties mutually agreed not to disclose the financial terms of the settlement.”

Chelsea went to the Associated Press in early 2023 to share her story. 

“She had tried going to the church for help. She’d tried the criminal justice system. But John was free with access to children through his family and dental practice,” the investigation stated. The goal of the investigation, they say, is to protect other children. 

Click here to learn more about how the Church approaches abuse.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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