was an LDS church member in Arizona; sexually abused two children for several years after confessing to his bishop; arrested and charged; died by suicide in 2017 while in custody awaiting trial

Case report

Paul Adams was a Mormon church member who sexually abused multiple children and shared videos of the sexual abuse on the Internet.

Adams was excommunicated from the Mormon church in 2013.

He died by suicide in 2017 while awaiting trial.

FLOODLIT typically does not publish case reports about people who were not active in the LDS church when they perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated sex crimes. Adams was not an active LDS member when he sexually abused children, as far as we’re aware; however, this case is widely known and involved alleged failure by multiple LDS bishops to report sexual abuse, and therefore merits inclusion in our database.

from the Associated Press on August 4, 2022:

“MJ was a tiny, black-haired girl, just 5 years old, when her father admitted to his bishop that he was sexually abusing her.

“The father, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an admitted pornography addict, was in counseling with his bishop when he revealed the abuse. The bishop, who was also a family physician, followed church policy and called what church officials have dubbed the “help line” for guidance.

“But the call offered little help for MJ. Lawyers for the church, widely known as the Mormon church, who staff the help line around the clock told Bishop John Herrod not to call police or child welfare officials. Instead he kept the abuse secret.”

from the Associated Press on December 22, 2022:

“Six years before the video surfaced in Auckland, Adams, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church, confessed to his bishop that he abused his daughter, identified by the AP as MJ.

“But a prominent church lawyer told the bishop to keep the abuse secret. And as a result, MJ was brutalized for seven more years. Today, she continues to be victimized almost daily in a different way, as the video, and others Adams took, circulate on the internet. Details of the Mormon officials’ cover-up of the Adams rapes were reported in an AP investigation in August.


“Lynne Cadigan, one of several attorneys representing three of the Adams children, said MJ will seek compensation from the child pornographers.

“But she and Salminen, the girl’s adoptive mother, lay most of the blame for the sexual abuse on officials of the Mormon church, who knew Adams molested MJ as early as 2010 and did nothing to stop it.


“Attorneys for the church say the bishops who knew that Adams abused his daughter — John Herrod and Robert “Kim” Mauzy — did nothing wrong by taking a lawyer’s advice and withholding the information because Adams told Herrod about the abuse during a spiritual confession, triggering the privilege.

“In a statement to the AP, the church said it had no knowledge Adams was recording himself abusing his two daughters and posting the material on the internet until 2017. “The Church had no idea that these videos were being created or circulated until after Paul Adams was arrested,” the statement read. “The church supports all efforts to prosecute anyone who possesses or distributes these heinous and disturbing videos.””

Case facts

Case videos

    • Video title: How Mormon church 'help line' hid child sex abuse
    • Video description: "One victim was 5 when her father told his bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The abuse went on for seven more years even though Mormon church leaders used a so-called help line to report her abuse." - Associated Press

Case information sources

  1. Leizza Alcantara Adams
    view source details | 5 Dec 2023 | FLOODLIT
  2. Seven years of sex abuse: How Mormon officials let it happen
    view source details | 4 Aug 2022 | Associated Press
  3. Utah lawmaker told Mormon bishop not to report child sex abuse, docs show
    view source details | 10 Sep 2022 | Associated Press
  4. Sex-abuse video victimizes child long after abuser is gone
    view source details | 22 Dec 2022 | Associated Press
  5. Bisbee church at center of sexual abuse claim
    view source details | 30 Nov 2020 | KVOA
  6. Judge Recuses Self From Lawsuit Against LDS Church, Failed To Disclose Membership
    view source details | 16 Jul 2021 | Arizona Daily Independent
  7. Video: Sex abuse video spreads after Mormon church inaction (5m 39s)
    view source details | 23 Dec 2023 | CBS News
  8. 4 takeaways from AP’s Mormon church sex abuse investigation
    view source details | 4 Aug 2022 | Denver Post
  9. Presentence Hearing and Sentencing - Bisbee, Arizona - CR-201700425 - 247-page PDF
    view source details | 13 Aug 2018 | Mormonleaks
    view source details | 7 Jun 2018 | Mormonleaks
  11. Failure to Report Sexual Abuse—Bisbee, Arizona
    view source details | 6 Jan 2023 | Mormonr

Case information source details

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FLOODLIT.org has a free public database of hundreds of reports about people who committed or allegedly committed sex crimes, including sexual abuse, while they were active Mormon church members. You can browse the entire database in all sorts of ways, including by LDS church position, number of victims, places where crimes took place, or criminal/civil case result.

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International map of locations where active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated sexual abuse or other sex crimes, or where LDS leaders failed or allegedly failed to help abuse survivors.


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