I want to share one of the stories behind the Eve Bennet crime thriller series. I worked as a sex crimes detective in a town and county a few hours from the polygamist community that straddled the Utah and Arizona border. The Mormon Church was the largest religion in the region followed by the Catholic Church. It was extremely eye-opening that so many of my cases came from the Mormon sector and few from the Catholic one.
One of my most horrific memories was a case where the Mormon bishop, remained silent on the horrendous abuse a boy committed against his younger male sibling. The younger child told the bishop and instead of notifying law enforcement, the older boy was called in for counseling, he was 13. It took another year before the younger sibling bravely confided to a relative and I was notified. Had the church done the right thing and immediately called law enforcement, one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse I uncovered, would have been stopped a year earlier.
It should not come as a surprise that both boys had been abused by their stepfather since babyhood. Not only did the church defend this man but when he was remanded to his home by a judge, his ward provided his meals. As with most cases involving those in power at the church, I was the bad guy (woman) and a threat to their religion.
The county attorney’s office refused to prosecute the bishop due to confessional confidentiality which is still a thing in Arizona even after the Catholic Church’s tragedy of sexual abuse coverup for decades. It didn’t help that the CA’s office was entirely Mormon. It didn’t matter that it was the confession of a child begging for rescue. It’s one of the few cases, years after my retirement, that angers me to the point of tears.
A recent investigation by Michael Rezendes of the AP News (click here), on exactly how the Mormon church hides sexual abuse is worth the read. It goes into detail about a family very similar to the one I described above and how lawyers protected the good name of the church and not the children. It doesn't stop with Mormons; church coverup of child sexual abuse is widespread in almost every religion.
The AP investigated case and mine were not from the polygamist branch of the Mormon Church, the backdrop for my Eve Bennet crime thriller series, but they ignited a fire in me to speak out on the abuse of children hidden within religion. My cases involving the fundamental polygamists were usually with families trying to escape the larger sect under the boot of Warren Jeffs.
In one case, three wives thankfully reported a sexual assault of one of their children while riding the school bus. This led to the discovery of years of abuse within another family. The women were nervous and chose their words carefully until I made it clear I was concerned about their child and not their living arrangements. Their story will be told in another blog post.
TRUTH: In 2016, a federal judge ordered oversight of law enforcement within the FLDS community run by Warren Jeffs in Utah and Arizona. CRIME FICTION: Detective Sergeant Eve Bennet and her team of investigators are in charge of felony cases within the oversight jurisdiction. Eve is the perfect woman for the job because she escaped the cult as a child of twelve before a forced marriage to a much older man.
Releases January 13th, 2023. Friday the Thirteenth, the best release day of the entire year! Title and cover reveal coming soon.