was a 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

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.

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  1. A Mormon Daughter's Book Stirs a Storm
    view source details | 24 Feb 2005 | The New York Times
  2. Hugh W. Nibley
    view source details | 1 Mar 2005 | Legacy.com
Sources excerpts
  • A Mormon Daughter's Book Stirs a Storm
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: The New York Times
    Date published/accessed: 24 Feb 2005
    archive 1 | archive 2

    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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    Hugh W. Nibley
    Source type: Website
    Publisher: Legacy.com
    Date published/accessed: 1 Mar 2005
    archive 1 | archive 2

    [Excerpts selected by FLOODLIT]

    Hugh Nibley Obituary

    Hugh W. Nibley
    1910 ~ 2005

    Hugh Winder Nibley passed away 24 February 2005 in his Provo home of causes incident to old age. He was 94 years old.

    Brother Nibley was born 27 March 1910 in Portland, Oregon to Alexander and Agnes Sloan Nibley. He attended public schools in Portland, Medford, and Los Angeles, where he excelled in school and gained a life-long love of nature, art, astronomy, drama, and literature.

    Upon graduation from high school, 17 year old Hugh served a three year mission for the LDS Church to Germany. He later served a short-term mission to the Northern States.

    He earned his bachelors degree in History at UCLA in 1934, graduating summa cum laude, and his PhD at Berkeley in 1938. As a college student he belonged to the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

    Prior to the U.S. entering World War II, he taught at the consortium of colleges at Claremont, California. In 1942, he joined the Army, where he served in military intelligence. Attached to the 101st Airborne Division, he landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, fought in Holland during Operation Market-Garden, and was mapping German forces when the breakout occurred at Bastogne.

    Following the war, he married [Jane Doe] 18 September 1946 in the Salt Lake Temple. Dr. Nibley began his teaching career that fall at Brigham Young University, where he taught history, languages, and religion.

    He became best known for his writings on LDS scripture which were published in Church magazines almost monthly throughout the next three decades, as well as his numerous lectures and books. His book An Approach to the Book of Mormon was used as a lesson manual for the LDS Church in 1957.

    He officially retired from BYU in 1975, but continued teaching until 1994. Dr. Nibley's legacy at BYU is substantial. In addition to teaching a wide variety of subjects, publishing numerous articles in both academic and LDS journals, and delivering lectures throughout the country, he helped the library acquire an extensive religious studies collection.

    In 1973 he was called to serve as the first director of the newly created Institute for Ancient Studies. In 2001, the Ancient Studies reading room at BYU was named in his honor.

    He received numerous awards, among them the David O. McKay Humanities Award in 1971, Professor of the Year in 1973, Distinguished Service Award in 1979, the Exemplary Manhood Award in 1991, and an honorary doctorate from BYU in 1983. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, which is being published by FARMS, has reached 15 volumes.

    He inspired an entire generation of Mormon scholars, and touched the lives of thousands of people throughout the world.

    Until his health declined, Brother Nibley served faithfully in the Provo 9th Ward as a Sunday School teacher and home teacher.

    [family information redacted by FLOODLIT]

    Funeral services will be Wednesday, March 2, 2005 at 1 p.m. in the Provo Tabernacle, 90 South University Ave., Provo. Friends may call at the Walker Mortuary, 85 East 300 South, Provo Tuesday 6-9 p.m. or Wednesday from 11 a.m.-12 noon. Burial will be in East Lawn Memorial Hills Cemetery. Family condolences may be sent to www.walkerfamilymortuaries.com In lieu of flowers, family members have asked that donations be made in honor of Hugh Nibley to the C.W. Nibley Scholarship Fund at BYU to support students of Scottish descent.

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