FLOODLIT.org (“FLOODLIT”) tries to help people find accurate information about instances of sexual abuse and other sex crimes allegedly committed by leaders or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the LDS church or Mormon church).
Why focus on the Mormon church?
- The Mormon church has claimed to be the world’s most effective religion – the “gold standard” – when it comes to preventing and responding to abuse. So, we think it’s important to gather and share accurate information that may help people compare the Mormon church to other religions in this regard.
- We have seen concerted attempts to catalog conversations about sexual abuse within the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious and secular organizations, and how those organizations have behaved in response to allegations of institutional negligence or coverups. But we hadn’t seen such an attempt focus solely on the Mormon church, so we were curious to investigate and wanted to share what we found.
- We believe that in general, wherever there is secrecy and discouragement of open dialogue about abusive behavior, there is greater opportunity for abusers to hurt others. The Mormon church has long been publicly portrayed as being secretive about its doctrine, practices and administration. We wanted to find out how Mormon teachings or practices might have influenced the detection of and response to sexual abuse or sex crimes in Mormon families, congregations and communities.
- Like most people, we find sex abuse to be one of the most revolting things imaginable. We wish there was none of it. It can leave deep, lifelong scars. We wanted to do something that might provide comfort to sexual abuse survivors who were abused by an active Latter-day Saint, that might encourage other victims to come forward, and that might lead to the prevention of further abuse.
Is this an anti-Mormon website?
FLOODLIT is neither for or against the Mormon church.
We are against simply against abuse, against inaccurate representations of allegations or accusations of abuse, and above all, for survivors and the protection of the innocent.
In other words, we want to help people find accurate information about who said what and when, who was criminally charged, who was found guilty or not guilty, how the Mormon church responded at the local or global level, etc.
Our hope is that devout Mormons, “inactive” Mormons, ex-Mormons and others will find our database and research to be helpful.
Who does FLOODLIT include in its database of accused persons?
This database is based generally on allegations reported publicly in the media or publicly filed in the courts.
The US legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. A defendant in a civil action is presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise.
FLOODLIT does not claim to know whether any accusations are true, and this database is not a representation of the legal case history of an individual.
Our goal is to provide a fair, accurate representation of public accusations and responses to them, including admissions, denials or other statements by the accused or LDS church officials.
We strive to ensure accuracy. Each reported allegation has been double-checked with the cited source document.
Here are our main criteria for determining whether to include information in our database:
- In order to create a case information page about an accused individual, FLOODLIT must be able to show that they were publicly alleged to have committed a sex crime, such as sexual abuse, and that they were a regularly participating Mormon church member at the time of the alleged crime.
- In order for FLOODLIT to consider allegations against an individual to be public, their source must include at least one of the following:
- A formal police document (such as a probable cause affidavit).
- A public court record.
- A record of formal criminal or civil charges.
- A reliable public news source such as a mainstream newspaper.
- Someone claiming in a published book, podcast, blog, online forum or other publicly accessible source that they are a first-hand witness to or personal experience of the abuse.
- If the source of the allegations is someone claiming in a published book, podcast, blog, online forum or other publicly accessible source that they are a first-hand witness to or personal experience of the abuse, we generally do not create a case information page about the accused individual unless the allegations have already been repeatedly discussed by a broad audience.
- We are willing to consider exceptions to the above criteria on a case-by-case basis. Usually, the overriding concern is whether the accusations deserve to be or have already become part of an ongoing public conversation about the topic of sexual abuse or sex crimes allegedly committed by Mormon church leaders or members.
- We take care to determine whether the accused was a regularly participating Mormon church member at the time of the alleged crime.
What information do you include or exclude from your database?
Once we’ve created a case information page about an accused individual, the FLOODLIT team uses the following criteria to determine what information to include or exclude:
- Victims: We do not publish names of or personally identifying information about alleged or confirmed victims unless they are deceased or their names are already published in multiple sources that we’re citing.
- Mormon leaders: For accused individuals who have been found guilty of a sex crime and who have held Mormon church leadership positions such as bishop, stake president or relief society president, we try to find and publish information about all LDS church leadership positions they have held, including the names and locations of LDS stakes and wards in which they held each position.
- Church discipline: We exclude information about internal LDS church investigations or disciplinary actions (disfellowshipping, excommunication, etc.) against anyone unless it is already published in a source we’re citing.
- Church membership status: We don’t report an individual’s current LDS membership status unless it is already published in a source we’re citing.
- Places lived: We don’t publish current or past street-level addresses of anyone, even if they have been found guilty of a sex crime. We do publish current and past known cities or regions where an accused person has lived if they were found guilty of a sex crime.
- Exmormons: If someone allegedly committed a sex crime after leaving the LDS church and had no known record of criminal activity before leaving the LDS church, we do not include them in our database.
- Posthumous accusations: We try to hold accusations made after the death of an accused individual to the same standards as those made while they were still living.
- Found not guilty: We don’t typically remove someone from our database simply because they were found not guilty, because that alone doesn’t always determine whether a public conversation about the allegations was justified. However, we do not wish to cause harm to anyone, and we recognize that it can be tremendously stressful for a person who has been publicly accused and then found not guilty to go on with their lives. We are willing to remove records from our database whenever their publication may present harm to any innocent person.
- We are willing to consider exceptions to the above criteria on a case-by-case basis.
Retraction and Correction Policy
FLOODLIT is committed to truth, accuracy, and fairness. Corrections and comments on information appearing in the database are encouraged and can be sent to team @ floodlit.org. If FLOODLIT discovers facts establishing that any information appearing in the database is inaccurate, we will promptly take appropriate action, including but not limited to revising, correcting or withdrawing the information.