was a Mormon church member; pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse

About unknown Taylor

unknown Taylor Mormon Sex Crime Case Summary

09/17/07 Washington


“1J1 APPELWICK, C.J. — Two sisters who had been sexually abused by their stepfather
sought damages from the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter Day Saints (LDS Church) for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. They also sought damages against their stepfather for intentional infliction of
emotional distress. A jury found the LDS Church liable both for the failure of a bishop to
report the abuse of the older sister and for the subsequent abuse of the younger sister. The
jury also found the LDS Church liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, due to
intimidating statements made by the bishop to the victim. Lastly, the jury found the
stepfather liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court entered a
judgment against the stepfather and the church, holding them jointly and severally liable.
LDS Church appeals the verdict. The victims cross-appeal the issue of whether the church
owed them a common law duty to protect them.

1|2 We affirm the jury verdict for the tort of outrage against the LDS Church but vacate the
determination of joint and several liability with the stepfather. We affirm that the LDS Church
did not owe a common law duty to protect the plaintiffs. We reverse the jury verdict of
negligence against the LDS Church, concluding that the bishop was not a social service
counselor as defined by the mandated reporting statute and therefore did not have a duty to
report the abuse. We remand to the trial court for entry of a judgment consistent with this


1|3 Peter Taylor«1» was accused of and pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his
stepdaughters. Taylor; his former wife, Dianne Osborne; and her two daughters were
members of the LDS Church during all relevant times.

Hammock, 870 P.2d at 949 n.1 .

1}6 According to Jessica, sometime in 1995 she met with Bishop Hatch and told him her
stepfather was sexually abusing her. Jessica testified that she told her friend, Cherisse
Anderson that “[Taylor] was coming into [her] room at night, and abusing [her].” Cherisse
encouraged her to speak to their bishop. Jessica stated that she went to Bishop Hatch
because she “just wanted the abuse to stop. That’s it.” Jessica testified that Bishop Hatch
referred to a conversation with Cherisse in which Cherisse had suggested that Taylor had

been touching Jessica inappropriately. Jessica testified that after some “back and forth,”
she told Bishop Hatch that her stepfather “touched me on my private parts in the middle of
the night, in my bed, and it did make me uncomfortable.”

1f7 According to Jessica, Bishop Hatch responded, “I’m so glad you came and talked to me,
because I don’t have to report it.” Jessica said that Bishop Hatch then talked about another
family in the ward. She testified that he told her “that one of the twin daughters had gone to
the school counselor, and told the school counselor that her dad was abusing her, and the
school counselor reported it to Child [Protective Services], And [then] he said that, Child
[Protective Services] went into the house, the family is losing everything, they are going
bankrupt, and everybody in the ward is gossiping about them.” When asked at trial, Jessica
replied that she knew about the Roberts family at the time “because there were people
talking about it.”

1J14 In January 2000, Dianne Osborne learned that Taylor had sexually abused her younger
daughter, Ashley. Dianne called CPS to report the abuse. Upon placing that call, she
learned that Jessica’s abuse had never been reported by the LDS Church. Taylor was
criminally charged and prosecuted for the sexual abuse of both Jessica and Ashley. Taylor
pleaded guilty to child molestation in the first degree and was sentenced to prison.

1J16 The LDS Church moved for a directed verdict “to dismiss any claims arising or
connected to the reporting statute for lack of evidence that the bishops were acting in any
capacity other than as a bishop under the Motherwell«[6]» decision. Plus, there’s no
evidence that they were social service counselors, as defined by statute.” This motion was
denied by the trial court.

LDS BISHOP Bruce Randall Hatch alleged Failure to Report in Jane Doe v the COP.pdf
«6» State v. Motherwell, 114 Wn.2d 353, 788 P.2d 1066 (1990) (holding that one of the
defendants was exempt from the mandated reporting requirement because of his status as
an ordained minister acting in a religious context).

IP 7 The LDS Church then sought summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ negligence claim,
arguing again that Bishop Hatch did not meet the statutory definition of social service
counselor and therefore did not have a duty to report. This was also denied by the trial
court, which “believe[d] that whether or not these people were acting as clergy or as social
workers pursuant to the terms and definitions of the statutes is a question of fact for the
jury.” The LDS Church sought discretionary review of the trial court’s order compelling the
church to produce confidential church disciplinary records regarding Taylor. This was
resolved in the church’s favor. Jane Doe, 122 Wn. App. at 556.

IP 8 At the close of plaintiffs’ case, the trial court granted the LDS Church’s motion to
dismiss the negligence claim based on breach of a special relationship. After three weeks of
trial, the jury returned a verdict in the plaintiffs’ favor. Jessica’s total damages were
$3,180,000, with $1 .2 million against Taylor for the tort of outrage based on his sexual
abuse, $1.1 million against the LDS Church for the tort of outrage, and $880,000 against the
LDS Church for negligence arising out of Bishop Hatch’s failure to report the abuse under
RCW 26.44.030. Ashley’s total damages were $1 ,052,000, with $530,000 against Taylor for
the tort of outrage based on his sexual abuse, and $522,000 against the LDS Church for
negligence arising out of Bishop Hatch’s failure to report the abuse under RCW 26.44.030.

IP 9 Over the LDS Church’s timely objections, the trial court entered judgment against both
defendants jointly and severally. On February 9, 2006, LDS Church filed posttrial motions
for judgment as a matter of law and/or for a new trial and/or for remittitur. These motions
were denied. The LDS Church filed for appeal on February 28 and a supplemental notice of
appeal seeking review of the trial court’s order denying its posttrial motions. The plaintiffs
filed a cross-appeal on April 7, 2006, seeking review of the trial court’s dismissal of their
negligence claim based on breach of a special relationship.

1J44 Further, Jessica presented evidence that Bishop Hatch suggested that if the abuse
were to be reported to CPS, she, rather than the abuser, would be the cause of her family’s
breakup and would be at the center of church gossip. Bishop Hatch admitted that he
discussed the possibility of a separation of the family if CPS got involved, and also
“mentioned to [Jessica’s mother] at that time that any case of child abuse, a person is in
jeopardy of losing their membership in the Church.” According to Jessica’s mother, he did
not tell her that Jessica had told him that she was being sexually abused.

1J45 While Bishop Hatch testified that he suggested placing a lock on Jessica’s bedroom
door and that he told Jessica that she had many people to whom she could turn, he did not
report the sexual abuse to LDS Social Services, his LDS Church superiors, or CPS. And,
his advice had the effect of silencing Jessica:”

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