The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church, is facing accusations of covering up child sexual abuse allegations. Paul Rytting, an attorney and head of the church’s Risk Management Division, met with Chelsea Goodrich and her mother, Lorraine, to discuss Chelsea’s allegations of sexual abuse by her father, John Goodrich. Audio recordings obtained by The Associated Press reveal how Rytting employed a risk management playbook to discourage Bishop Michael Miller from testifying at John Goodrich’s trial, citing a law that exempts clergy from divulging information about child sex abuse obtained during confession.
Prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges against John Goodrich, citing the passage of time and potential prejudice against the defendant. Rytting offered Chelsea and Lorraine hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a confidentiality agreement and the destruction of their recordings of the meetings. John Goodrich, who did not respond to the AP’s questions, is currently practicing dentistry in Idaho.
The recordings shed light on the church’s efforts to keep child sexual abuse cases secret, potentially leaving predators free and children at risk. The church maintains that the abuse of a child is inexcusable and that John Goodrich has not been readmitted to church membership following his excommunication.
The allegations against John Goodrich came to light in 2015 when Chelsea began confronting disturbing memories of her father’s actions. She reached out to Rytting, unaware of his involvement in defending the church in a previous child sex abuse lawsuit. Rytting’s sworn statements in that case revealed the church’s commitment to confidentiality for perpetrators who make spiritual confessions.
The Goodrich family also discovered that church officials may have been aware of John’s actions for years. However, the prosecutor dropped the criminal case, leading Chelsea and Lorraine to seek Rytting’s help in allowing Bishop Miller to testify against John Goodrich.
The Mormon community has reportedly ostracized Chelsea and Lorraine, and Miller’s advocacy for Chelsea has been met with resistance. Rytting expressed surprise at the dropped case and suggested reaching out to the prosecutor to restart the proceedings.
The church’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations has raised questions about its commitment to protecting victims and the general public. The recordings provide a rare glimpse into the church’s behind-the-scenes actions in such cases.