prominent LDS scholar in Utah; in 2005, was publicly accused by his daughter of childhood sexual abuse against her; died in 2005 in Provo, Utah; was never charged with a sex crime

About Hugh Nibley

  • Latest update: 2005-02-28: Died in Provo, Utah
  • Lived: 1910 - 2005
  • LDS positions: unknown | Add info
  • LDS mission: yes - -

  • LDS temple marriage: yes

  • Criminal case result:
Personal information sources
  1. Obituary, Deseret News (archive)

Hugh Nibley Mormon Sex Crime Case Summary

FLOODLIT is including Hugh Nibley in the database because even though he was not charged with a crime, his daughter’s allegations against him were highly publicized. Our goal is to provide clarity and transparency in such cases.

He was never charged with a sex crime. He died the same day as the NY Times article quoted below.

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From the New York Times on 2005-02-24:

“Dr. Martha Beck wrote a heart wrenching expose about her life as a daughter of Mormon’s
prominent religious scholars and apologist, Dr. Hugh Nibley. According to the New York
Times article Dr. Beck, “has accused her father of sexually abusing her as a child in a
forthcoming memoir that is shining an unwelcome spotlight on the practices and beliefs of
the much-scrutinized but protectively private Mormon religious community.”

“Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith” details how the author,
Dr. Martha Beck, a sociologist and therapist, recovered memories in 1990 of her ritual
sexual abuse more than 20 years earlier by her father, Dr. Hugh Nibley, professor emeritus
of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and arguably the leading living authority on
Mormon teaching.”

“The Mormon Church issued a statement condemning the book, calling it “seriously flawed
in the way it depicts the church, its members and teachings.” Dr. Beck and her publisher
have said she has received e-mail messages containing death threats.

In addition, Mormons around the country have participated in an e-mail campaign against
the book, sending more than 3,500 messages to Oprah Winfrey, who has featured “Leaving
the Saints” on her Internet site and in the March issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. The
magazine includes a monthly self-help column by Dr. Beck, who has a doctorate from

“In 2003, Jon Krakauer wrote about a group of renegade Mormon fundamentalists in “Under
the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith.” As with the Beck book, the Mormon Church
issued a statement condemning it before it was published.”

“Her childhood was marked, she said, by unexplained depression, anorexia and despair
that at times left her suicidal. She writes, several doctors commented on unusual scar
tissue in her vaginal area, which she cites as physical evidence of the abuse. Later, she
said, doctors confirmed to her that the vaginal scarring was not the result of childbirth.

It was not until she was in her late 20’s, however, while teaching at Brigham Young, that Dr.
Beck experienced a flashback that resulted in the memories of what she describes as
ritualistic rape by her father. During the incident, which she believes took place in her home
while her older siblings were at school, her father recited incantations about Abraham and

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Online sources
  1. A Mormon Daughter's Book Stirs a Storm
    view source details | 24 Feb 2005 | The New York Times
Online sources excerpts


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