Mormon church, accused of protecting pedophile, to pay $3 million to abuse victim

Posted: Friday, September 07, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Mormon church has agreed to pay $3 million to an Oregon man who claims the church did too little to protect him from sexual abuse by a pedophile.

Despite the settlement announced Tuesday, church attorney Von Keetch said the denomination's officials are not accepting any blame for the abuse. He said the payment was simply cheaper than pursuing the case in court.

Jeremiah Scott, 22, sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a fellow church member was convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing him in Portland, Ore., when he was 11.

The suit claimed Gregory Lee Foster, then a bishop of the church, knew Franklin Richard Curtis had a history of sexually abusing children dating back to the 1970s, but did not warn Scott's mother before she allowed Curtis to move into their home. The case was scheduled to go to trial this fall.

''As long as they continue to deny responsibility they will not change their ways and as long as they do not change their ways they will continue to pay settlements,'' said Scott's attorney, Jeff Anderson. ''This is a church that has given safe harbor to pedophiles and continues to protect child abusers.''

Curtis, who was 87 at the time of the abuse, was arrested and convicted of first-degree sex abuse and given probation in 1994. He died in 1995.

Curtis had been excommunicated from another ward in Oregon for sex abuse. Court records show he was re-baptized in 1984.

Keetch said the bishop had no knowledge of the sexual abuse. He also said he was disheartened by a ruling in the case that Curtis was a member of the church's clergy because he held the title of ''high priest'' -- which Keetch said is conferred on most Mormon men in their 40s and carries no leadership responsibility.

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