was a Mormon missionary in South Dakota; allegedly sexually abused a 10-year-old child

Case Summary

Richard Joseph White, a missionary, allegedly sexually abused a 10 year old. The complaint alleges that “The Church actively and fraudulently concealed information pertinent and relevant to claims relating to the sexual abuse..for the purpose of protecting itself”.
“The Church’s policy was to ignore indications and warnings of abusive behavior by its missionaries and to fail to report such conduct.”

Joseph v. Corporation of the President Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints et alCase 4:06-cv-04143-JES Document 1 Filed 08/17/2006

  1. Man Files Suit Against Mormon Elder
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Sources excerpts
  • Man Files Suit Against Mormon Elder
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    SIOUX FALLS — A South Dakota man is suing the Mormon church, alleging one of its missionaries sexually abused him in the 1960s.

    Joseph Ferris filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in South Dakota against the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, both of Utah.

    Ferris, 51, is an American Indian who lived with his family in Sioux Falls from 1966 to 1968, when he was 10 to 12 years old, according to the lawsuit.

    They were members of the Mormon church when in 1967, Elder Richard Joseph White and another missionary started picking up Ferris and his brothers to take them to activities.

    White was based at the Northern Indian Mission in Rapid City and was assigned to Flandreau, in eastern South Dakota, where the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is located.

    "On many occasions, Elder White took Ferris to his apartment in Flandreau, where he sexually abused and raped him," the lawsuit states.

    "The sexually, emotional and spiritual abuse committed by Elder White on Ferris was open and long lasting, such that church officials, administrators and supervisors of Elder White knew or should have known of his sexual abuse of Ferris."

    White and other missionaries also abused other boys, but the church didn't stop it, the complaint states.

    Ferris had no memory of the abuse until an October 2004 visit to his sister in Canada, a devout member of the Mormon church, it states.

    Ferris, whose address is not listed in court documents, seeks unspecified damages.

    No trial date has been set.

    Lawyers on both sides did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

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.