LIHUE — The Mormon Church has settled a lawsuit by a Kauai woman, who accused a missionary of molesting her as a child.
The woman, identified as Jane Roe in court documents, sued the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2014 over an alleged sexual assault that took place about 40 years prior.
Her attorney declined to comment on the conditions or dollar amount of the settlement, citing concerns that he might violate the terms of a non-disclosure agreement included in the contract.
A lawyer for the LDS church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Roe described the alleged sexual assault during a deposition two years ago, testifying that a Mormon missionary cornered her during a church get-together at a house in Waimea in the early 1970s, when she was around six years old.
According to Roe, she and the other children were shown a movie about Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, and then sent to bed when it was time for the adult part of the meeting. The alleged incident began after the movie.
“I was trying to sleep, but it was very hard ‘cause it’s not my home,” Roe said during the deposition. “And all of a sudden, I felt someone in the bed.”
The missionary — a man, then in his early 20s, whose name she never learned — started touching her inappropriately, according to Roe’s testimony.
“He moved his hand around my hip, and all through it, he’s telling me that this is what God wants. Now, in all due respect, what kind of God is this? ‘Cause I’m scared now,” she said. “And he told me he loves you and you’re special. It didn’t feel special. Sorry.”
At some point, Roe said her sister came into the room and asked what was going on, but she left when the missionary explained he was only telling the little girl about God to help her sleep. Roe said she didn’t say anything or motion to her sister because the missionary had told her he was only doing God’s will.
“And I’m thinking in my mind, why? If this is what God wants?” she asked herself. “Because they’re going to say that you did something wrong.”
The molestation continued.
“I thought he was going to go. He didn’t. He continued. He told me — kept telling me how special — how much I’m loved, how much God is happy with me. I don’t know, but I wasn’t too happy,” she said, describing the pain. It started to become unbearable, Roe said, and she thought to herself, “Oh, my God. I wished I’d died.”
Later that night, Roe said her parents saw her in pain and asked what happened. When she told them, they called the president of the Kekaha LDS Church, whose home the meeting had been held in that night.
He was also deposed for the lawsuit and testified that after the phone call, he went to the missionaries’ home on church property to ask about the incident. According to court documents, the church president testified that he spoke with two missionaries at home for about five minutes, and a decision was made to contact the mission president in Honolulu.
Several days later, Roe said in her deposition, and she remembers her mom telling me the missionary was going to be sent “far away.”
“How far?” she asked her mother. “She said, ‘Over the ocean.’ And that didn’t make me feel better.”
Roe said her mother told her not to tell anyone about it, and that was the end of the discussion.
“It bugged me throughout my life,” she said. “My whole family is LDS. So there wasn’t a moment I could not forget.”
The Mormon Church’s attorneys have maintained throughout the lawsuit that the church is not legally responsible for the actions of its missionaries and have asked that the case be dismissed due to the length of time that elapsed between the alleged molestation and the filing of the suit.