was an LDS church member in Arizona; sentenced to prison for sexually abusing children; the LDS church was involved in a lawsuit regarding clergy-penitent privilege; the church settled out of court

Case Summary

Kenny Ray was a Mormon church member to sexually molested at least five girls – but confessed to sexually victimizing at least 33 children.

In May 1984, Ray was arrested and booked into Maricopa County Jail on an indictment charging him with four counts of child molestation.

“This case involved molestations of a two year-old girl whom Ray and his wife babysat for a year and a half.

The suit alleged negligence for the Church’s failure to report Ray to authorities and in counseling offered to Ray.

This case was the subject of an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling that the priest penitent privilege waiver did not apply because the perpetrator later confessed to police.

The court ordered Mormon Bishops to reveal what Ray had told them about prior molestations.

The Church settled the case on January 9, 1990, the day of trial, for an undisclosed amount.”

In the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST V. SUPERIOR COURT with regard to this case:

“In this special action, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints invokes the clergyman/penitent privilege on behalf of three of its officers, asserting that, as lay priests of the church, they are privileged to resist certain discovery orders of the superior court. The Church also asserts that defendant Kenneth Ray, a former member now excommunicated, is privileged as a penitent to resist the court’s discovery orders.”

[…]

“For the reasons stated in this opinion, we accept review, but deny relief.”

from “Sins of the Temple:”

“Standing Behind a Monster About a decade ago, Richard Kenneth Ray sat in an interview at the Mesa Police Department and unleashed a secret that would shock nearly everyone except his children.

“Kenny, “ as he was more commonly known to friends and family, was a lifelong Mormon, ready to serve the church whenever he was asked.

He had also been a child molester for most of his life.

Ray himself was molested at Boy Scout camp when he was 12 years old.

Because of the church’s teachings against masturbation and premarital sex, he would always feel guilty about the one encounter when he was a victim.

He never told anyone.

Ray went on to graduate from Mesa High School as a member of the National Honor Society, then served a two-year mission with the LDS church.

Upon his return, Ray met a woman and, after knowing her for about three months, married her.

Emotional baggage came into this marriage like an ugly wedding present. In later interviews with probation officers, police and psychologists, Ray said he used his children to satisfy his needs because of his guilt about masturbation and adultery. His wife said she tolerated 20 unhappy years of marriage because of the church’s teachings against breaking up the family.

During those 20 years, Ray became a monster. In total, Ray confessed to sexually victimizing 33 children [..].

He sexually abused all three of his daughters, starting when they were as young as 6 years old.

Two Mormon bishops in Virginia had called stake president Alan Farnsworth in Mesa to report that Ray had molested his niece while he was on vacation.

Ray confessed to Farnsworth, who persuaded him to go to the police. Ray had been counseled by at least two different bishops eight years earlier for another sexual incident, with another relative.

In that case, however, the police weren’t notified. In a court report, probation officer Lori Scott noted that Ray, his wife and their family had all been raised in the Mormon church, which influenced every aspect of their lives.

Ray held various positions in his wards and was deeply involved in church activities.

“It is also evident that even though the defendant’s wife and the defendant himself went to their church for guidance and leadership, church leaders were ill-equipped to deal with the extent of the defendant’s psychological problem, and apparently did little to help him,” Scott told the court.

“On at lest one occasion, he came to the attention of church officials who might have intervened, but they did not.

Ultimately, he was to spend 20 years or more molesting female children of various ages who happened to have the misfortune of being available to him.”

Had Ray been reported in 1976, when the church first learned of his problem, he might not have had the chance to victimize children for the next eight years.

Before Ray was sentenced, the court received a barrage of letters from LDS church members and officials, some written on church stationery, asking for leniency.

All praised Ray as a hard worker, a good provider, a man who had even helped to bring about several adoptions.

W. Dale Hall, an LDS high counselor at the time, wrote that Ray had been “a great influence for good” in the lives of hundreds of young people.

“In view of the good things he has done throughout his life, I believe firmly that the sooner he is let back into society, the better for all it will be,” Hall said in his letter to the court.

Ray was sentenced to 58 years in prison.

His wife received two years probation for knowing at least part of his secret and not reporting it.

One of Ray’s victims sued the church for negligence, and after arguing in vain before the state Supreme Court that its bishops were protected by clergy confidentiality, the LDS church paid an undisclosed settlement.

The rallying behind Ray is not unique. The Mormon church regularly stands behind its perpetrators.”

Sources
  1. Suspect held on four counts of molestation
    view source details | 11 May 1984 | Arizona Republic
  2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Superior Court, 159 Ariz. 24, 764 P.2d 759 (1988)
    view source details | 31 Jan 2023 | Case.law
  3. source 2
    view source details | |
Sources excerpts
  • Suspect held on four counts of molestation
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Arizona Republic
    Date published/accessed: 11 May 1984
    archive 1 | archive 2

    Suspect held on four counts of molestation MESA A 42-year-old Mesa man was arrested Thursday and booked into Maricopa County Jail on an indictment charging him with four counts of child molestation. Richard Kenneth Ray of 2959 E. Backus was arrested by Mesa police at his office at 10 a.m., according to Lt Linn Brown, a department spokesman. Ray, a loan officer at the Mesa -Mortgage 461 N. Gilbert Road, was taken into custody without incident Brown said.

    Ray was indicted April 16 after a grand-jury investigation of incidents during the past three years, Brown said. He remained in jail late Thursday in lieu of $10,960 bail, a jail official said.

  • back to online sources list
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Superior Court, 159 Ariz. 24, 764 P.2d 759 (1988)
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Case.law
    Date published/accessed: 31 Jan 2023
    archive 1 | archive 2
  • back to online sources list
    source 2
    Source type: News article
    Publisher:
    Date published/accessed:
    archive 1 | archive 2

    "With each one, he would start out fondling her. Over time, he moved on to kissing her genitals, until, in the end, he had oral and vaginal sex with his daughters. One of his daughters would eventually sleep under her bed to get away from him. Similar scenarios unfolded with his nieces, his daughter’s baby sitters, his daughter’s friends and his friends’ children. Ray was so out of control that he victimized a 2-year-old child whom his wife baby-sat regularly in their home. On one occasion, he manipulated his penis around the child’s mouth until she opened it so he could put his penis inside. Another time he removed her clothing, placed his penis between her legs and rubbed it back and forth.

    The girl’s mother became suspicious when her daughter began acting out sexually; 2-year-olds don’t normally seek out their father’s penis. But by that time, Ray was already on his way out of the community."

Mormon Sexual Abuse Map

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.