Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
270: Serving Up Children to Paedophiles: The  Church and the West Virginia Michael Jensen Sex Abuse Case: Tom and Juliette

270: Serving Up Children to Paedophiles: The Church and the West Virginia Michael Jensen Sex Abuse Case: Tom and Juliette

Photo Credit: Child’s Face by Andy Britt

Lawyer Tim Kosnoff recently remarked that he thought that churches were largely harmless.  That was until he uncovered a system of cover-ups, and he witnessed first hand the lengths that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go to deny the rights of sexual abuse victims to seek justice.

Tom and Juliette and their children were an ordinary family in Michael Jensen’s West Virginia Mormon community when they were asked to provide a home for him.

What they didn’t know was that they were harbouring a paedophile with prior convictions and numerous criminal allegations of sexual assault and abuse against him.  What surprised and horrified them was that their church leaders had known of his abuses for years and they said nothing.

With Tim Kosnoff at their side, they took the LDS Church on in court and what they experienced was shocking and life-changing.


    1. Edith Parker

      This is a similar situation for my family. It is so disgusting how they separate families and hide. We were asked to never come back to church. Person is still serving in the calling.

  1. David

    Thanks for the wake up call…

    I’m so sorry this happen to you guys.
    I hate the way the church handled this issue… I’d like to think it was only a local issue.

    So glad this guy got what he deserved, to bad over 40? kids had to suffer until he did.
    Church can be so pathetic…

    Several families who protected the Jensens should be dis-fellowship/excommunicated.
    God, so many things went wrong, damn it.

    The church should get a new legal firm, and stop such dirty tactics.
    I wonder if they get so caught up trying to defend the church against other people who try to sue that they overlook the fact that some have legitimate cases against the church that do deserve the settlement received.

    God bless!!

    1. Heather

      Not a local issue. The same thing happened to me and dozens of children I know in completely a different sexual abuse coverup. The church successfully silenced families. Years later, when victims came forward, they used high-powered attorneys to discredit victims who came forward and lie about their knowledge of the abuses. That’s what the LDS Church does with your tithing money.

  2. Annie

    Still listening, so this may be answered later in the podcast…
    Why was Jensen protected to such an extent? Did TSCC protect him because of his last name or his connections, or because they were already in so deep, or his parents’ positions in the church? Is this TSCC’s approach to any predator/pedophile? I don’t really care if he is the only one – he is one too many. What I wonder is how many Michaels are out there, being protected by TSCC, and being supported by tithing?

    1. Reagan

      You need to listen to the interview that Gina did with Tim Kosnoff not that long ago. He’s a lawyer who has done tons of Mormon sexual abuse cases. This is happening all the time. The Mormon church is just as bad as the Catholics.

    2. David

      I believe it was mentioned that Jensen’s were in the high council and that the Stake Leaders had financial investments with the Jensen’s. The Jensen’s reputation was important to preserve their good name and hence business investments.

      Jensen’s parents were potentially engaging in business religious affinity fraud, a lot of members of the church did end up losing their investments any ways.

      What is upsetting is that the church had no empathy for the whole situation, perhaps the stake leaders just stereotyped labelled them that they were a family just seeking to sue the church for some money out of the whole situation and that’s why they never treated them with the love and respect that they deserved… especially as victims from the whole situation.

      It’s a bad situation that just went wrong and got ugly due to combination of miscommunication, and bad cultural practices.

      Perhaps we can all forgive and move on… but what does real forgiveness look like.

      1. Steve In Millcreek

        In professional life, a person who holds both a direct and voting position will abstain from voting to prevent influencing other voting members on an issue. Since members of the Jensen family are in Stake positions of leadership, they should have abstained from voting and/or voicing their opinion about their son. If they insist on voicing opinion, they should resign then speak as a regular citizen.

  3. Amy H.

    I was sexually assaulted when I was a child during Mormob “worthiness interviews”. Each Mormon child is called into his or her bishops office ALONE starting at age 8 and yearly or even twice a year throughout childhood. The door is shut and the Bishop (equivalent to a pastor in other churches) ask the child if they believe the church is true and other “churchy” questions. Then the man asks the child if he or she masturbates. The child is told that mastubation is so evil and horrid that it is akin to murder in God’s eyes.
    The Mormon Bishop that I was taught to revere like Christ was a sick pedophile. I was told that I needed a Priesthood blessing and those blessings are only given by MEN ordained by God. Then the bishop took his holy priesthood blessing oil and rubbed it between my legs. Before this I had been given several “priesthood” blessings where the blessing oil was put on the top of my head. But not this time -the pedophile bishop rubbed it between my legs and prayed a blessing for me that I would be given the strength to not masturbate and the oil was continuously rubbed between my legs. I was an innocent child who didn’t understand how sick and perverted this pedophile was. I was made to believe that I was wicked and evil for touching myself and that this Bishop loved me and cared about my salvation and that this priesthood blessing -which was in reality sexual molestations was going to bless me with the strength to not commit the “sin” of masturbation -also called “self harm” in Mormondom. Children mastubating is normal self exploration and Mormon doctrine shaming children for this (in my opinion) has caused a whole “cult”ure of Mormons to be extremely sexually dysfunctional!

    By the time I was an adult and talked to a high profile sexual assault attorney about being molested by this sick pedophile Bishop – that perverted pedophile bishop was dead. The statute of limitations in the state I grew up in was passed. The high profile sexual assault attorney told me that there was no case for me to sue the church for being molested at the church behind closed doors with a pedophile I was taught to trust.
    Them the sexual assault attorney called me back and told me he had dealt with other molest and sexual assault cases within the church AND that he had spoken to a lead attorney at the LDS church’s law firm, Kirton and Mckonkie. The LDS attorney told him that they would pay for counseling for me, meet with me and hear me explain what happened to me in that Bishop’s office and ALSO that they could create a monetary compensation for me. BUT, I would be required to sign a non disclosure agreement saying that I would NEVER EVER speak about this again in public to be given the monetary compemsation.
    I am proof that the Mormon church offers money to victims of sexual crimes in an attempt to shut them up from publicly exposing the reality that perverts and pedophiles can make their way into leadership positions where children are made to confess mastubation in the Bishops office.
    I hope that these “worthiness interviews” get exposed among the general non-Mormon public -for three reasons!
    One -so that future innocent Mormon children are spared this horrible sexual shaming.
    Two -so that non-Mormons know that if they join the Mormon church, their own children will be put at risk for this sexual shaming and that Pedophiles ARE lurking within Mormon church leadership.
    Three -this whole “worthiness interview” needs to be exposed for the sexual control shaming that is deeply steeped in Mormon “cult”ure… as a psychological cult control tactic.
    Please be warned if you are not Mormon that underneath all of that “family value” outside appearance is a very dysfunctional system of perversion called sexual shaming. You could join the Mormon church as an adult with children AND your children could be called into a “worthiness interview” to be asked if they masturbate AND you would NEVER know that your Bishop (equivalent of a pastor in other churches) is going to be asking your child if they “touch themselves down there”.

  4. It is VERY important that we name names in this abuse. There are so many people that are being tight lipped about WHO is committing the abuse. I thank this family for being so open and telling their story.

    Gifford Nielsen was the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and the G.A. who was visiting on behalf of the church in this story.

    It is always amazing to me how LDS only believe certain teachings in the scriptures and vehemently dismiss things like “it would be better that a millstone be placed around someone’s neck than that they suffer children be abused at their hand”, and “taking someone’s chastity is equal to murder”! It is always someone who HAS NO CLUE the abuse and shame suffered by the victims. I’m sure these same people could not identify with Jesus throwing out the money changers out of the temple either, since the LDS Church is guilty of the same sort of sin as they spend the members money to defend these abusers and build exclusive shopping malls!

  5. Doug

    I dont understand Michaels parents farming their pedophile son out to wardmembers as a babysitter in WV even after a known abusive tendancy had surfaced. What possible reason would there be to do that?

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  9. Charlotte

    They did not allow my sister to do baptisms for the dead because she disclosed sexual abuse. They said she, ” was causing problems in the family and that made her unworthy.”
    Now they are defending a know child neglect and abuser. That abuser moved in with a pedophile and sodomist with 5 children. He is fighting to get them back even though the 8 year old was bleeding from her lady parts when she was removed. It has been verified professionally muliple times that she IS NOT pubescent. The LDS church is providing the lawyer to put those kids right back in the home with the known rapist and sodomist. We are fighting it so hard. That abuser use to be my father. He is dead to me now. These kids are my nieces and nephews..

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