Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
255: Mormon Culture and Sexual Abuse: Tara Workman-Tulley

255: Mormon Culture and Sexual Abuse: Tara Workman-Tulley

In 1990 the Pace Memorandum reported the findings of General Authority Glenn Pace in which alleged victims described ritual abuse.  This was followed by a Utah State Legislature investigation in which hundreds of alleged victims were interviewed.   These testimonies were later dismissed as ‘false memories.’

Yet, research indicates that the undermining of these testimonies was not best professional practice for the mental health community.  Tara Workman-Tulley is a Provo based therapist who specializes in complex trauma.  Many of her clients continue to report childhood experiences of ritual abuse that have uncanny similarities.

Tara joins me to discuss sexual abuse and sex trafficking in Mormon communities.


  1. Duck

    I have not yet listened to this podcast. After reading the show notes, howeverh it led me to interjecting this comment. I hope it is relevant. Please forgive if it is not:

    My therapist in Salt Lake City was a Jewish doctor who was friends with the General Relief Society President for the church (her name escapes me now). She worked in the presidency with Chieko Okazaki. Both Elder Pace and Sister Okazaki worked with various therapists by providing people whom they met who were survivors of ritual sexual abuse. I am one of those individuals.

    I met with Sister Okazaki in Salt Lake after communicating back and forth with her regarding some issues. She in turn recommended I contact my to-become therapist and tell her that Sister Okazaki referred me. Her referral bumped me up to the front of the line for the psychologist who became my therapist- we worked very dedicatedly for over 3 years.

    My therapist was also a friend of Elder Pace. After he wrote this memorandum, shortly thereafter, he was assigned to work, if my memory serves me correctly, down under in Australia. In other words, according to my therapist, he was banned and sent as far away from Salt lake City and the brethren as possible. They didn’t want him saying anything else regarding ritual sexual abuse.

    Being a survivor of ritual sex abuse, of course I say it exists. I also know the evil it perpetrates and the amount of work, by both the survivor and therspist, it takes to heal from it. After my work with the aforementioned therapist, I went on to work with one more therapist for 6 years.
    I was lucky in that I eventually found 2 gifted therapists with whom to work who helped me heal. If ritual sex abuse doesn’t exist, according to the church, well, they need to learn a thing or two.

  2. Duck

    Whoops. Apparently I am confused. It was the state legislature that said the abuse didn’t happen. I said it was the church. But, according to Mr. Steve Urquart, from the documentary “Church and State”, nothing happens in the legislature is the church says no. So, even though my above comment was a bit confused, I think, in the end, it was spot on. Maybe the legislature said the abuse didn’t exist because the church said it didn’t exist and therefore, sent Elder Pace far, far away.

  3. goose

    I was so happy to see that abuse in the church is being discussed and was about to reach out to Open Stories myself regarding the Pace Memo. Much of what was said is helpful to those suffering from abuse or to those who don’t understand abuse and much, much more could be said to help. However, the material presented about Ritualistic Abuse (RA) and False Memory Syndrome is not sufficient to understand the topic at large or even within context of the LDS church. It is a very complicated topic. For that reason, I will not claim any exclusive knowledge or advantage. Furthermore, I will not deny or detract in any way from victims of abuse, please reread that last statement. I will however provide some credible sources for consideration.
    First, the wikipedia article for SRA gives a great background on the topic overall and what exactly was claimed “didn’t happen”. This was not only discussed in Utah but by many states in the US at the time, the UK, and Australia. The False Memory Foundation, most mental health professionals, the justice system, and professional brain and memory scientist universally claim that many, not all, memories recovered under hypnosis, are not reliable without outside evidence (the same practices that produce memories of past lives and alien abduction). That is a very specific claim and the only one that I want to bring up here.
    For more information about why, see the following resources:
    – “Try to Remember” by Mchugh.
    -“The Memory Illusion” by Shaw
    -“Investigators Guide to Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse”, FBI publication, Lanning
    -“Ritual Crime in the State of Utah”, Utah Attorney General
    -Research Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociation Identity Disorder (DID) from any credible source.
    -Several PBS Frontline documentaries from the 80s and 90s regarding Memory Recovery and Abuse including “Chasing Satan”, “Innocence List” series, “Divided Memories” series

  4. Dot

    Voices are being heard now, at last. I feel overwhelmed by the heartbreak of the many children who have been harmed through the years, and who never could speak. The realisation that this may very well have been the experience of the abusers is almost too much to take in. Generational disease. And in the end the Glenn Pace report shut down?

    Perhaps Sam Young has broken through that terrible mindset at last.

    As a fellow survivor (and on behalf of my sister) I can only say thank you to those who have fearlessly scaled the barbed-wire fence, and have emerged bloody, but unbowed. I salute all of you. True sacrifice. Hearts to Duck. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ And to you Gina.

  5. David Macfarlane

    Gina, you mention a previous interview with a former bishop who was just gobsmacked by how big a problem he found this to be after assuming his leadership role. What was his name and what number podcast is that interview? Thanks.

  6. Pingback: Tara Workman-Tulley, Ultra-Marathoner. Therapist, and Survivor/Activist – Ritual Abuse

  7. GD

    While not as overtly satanic, I too experienced abuse in the church as a young boy. Still haven’t worked up the courage to tell my parents (bishop father) 20 years later, though I’ve long since deactivated myself.

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