A federal lawsuit has been filed against Brenda and Richard Miles, daughter and son-in-law of President Russell M. Nelson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The lawsuit has brought 30-year-old allegations against the couple to the surface, allegations that were rejected by multiple law enforcement investigations at the time.
The lawsuit, filed by six unnamed plaintiffs, claims the Mileses were members of a sex ring that sexually assaulted children during “touching parties” and other incidents in Bountiful, Utah, during the 1980s. The lawsuit also claims the Mileses “utilized their status within the church, both as leaders in their own right and as the daughter and son-in-law of an apostle of the church, to cover up the crimes they committed.”
At the time, claims of ritual sex abuse became a national trend due to the popularity of a counseling technique known as recovered-memory therapy, a practice widely rejected today. No investigation found evidence that a sex ring existed in Bountiful or that the Mileses were involved in any such group.
The Mileses released a statement through their attorney, Jim Jardine. In part, they said:
“Allegations from the 1980s that we sexually abused neighborhood children by hosting ‘touching’ parties and engaging in other bizarre forms of ritualistic abuse are patently false and deeply, utterly offensive. Now that we have been subjected to a lawsuit attempting to dredge up these long-ago debunked accusations, it’s important for us to speak out.
“While it pains us to engage in litigation with former neighbors, especially individuals who have so clearly faced significant challenges in life, with the lawsuit they have filed, we are left with no choice but to defend ourselves in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. The allegations against us are false. While we feel deep sadness and concern for these individuals, any abuse they suffered did not involve us.”
The Church officially released a statement in response to media inquiries:
Protecting and nurturing children is important to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we handle issues of this nature with the utmost seriousness. These allegations of interference or coverup are baseless and offensive. Law enforcement investigated this matter in the 1980s and took no action against the Church or its leaders. We will continue to act responsibly and appropriately in addressing these matters.
They also stated:
- Law enforcement investigated these allegations when they arose in 1986 and brought no charges against anyone named in this lawsuit.
- All four principal investigators in the 1980s have confirmed there was no Church involvement or interference in their investigation.