If he thought LDS women could avoid the church’s wrath by pretending to be a victim, he didn’t pay attention.
The guy who used to be the chief of the Utah State University Police Department isn’t anymore because he’s been recorded giving some really bad advice to members of the school’s soccer team.
Not only did former President Earl Morris blame the victim for speaking to the Agese, warning them that women members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might consent to having sex with a man then, because its church leaders disagreed with their assault claim. He’s also shown that he doesn’t really know what he was talking about when it comes to the way the LDS church often views sexual crimes.
Had Morris read The Salt Lake Tribune over the past several years, he would have known better.
Had he been attentive, Morris would have understood that young LDS women who had clearly engaged in non-consensual sexual activity could not expect permission from church leaders simply because they had been victimized. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from reporting by Tribune journalists over the past five years, which reported a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2017 and since then exposed even more disgraceful behavior by church-owned Brigham Young University.
Tribune journalists have established beyond doubt that, at least in the BYU, women who regularly report sexual offenses have been found victims again by the school’s Honor Code office. With at least one BYU police officer diverting details of supposedly confidential police reports to honor code enforcers, the students were questioned by school officials who, had they acted as decent human beings, could have offered victims comfort and support instead of Attempt to catch them for rule violations that may result in internal discipline or expulsion.
BYU is certainly not the only place where sexual assault victims may face suggestions that what happened was their fault. She shouldn’t have been drinking, she shouldn’t have allowed herself to be alone with a guy, she shouldn’t have been out late or getting dressed that some dude with excessive libido already found overwhelming.
None of these excuses for sexual assault. The only person to blame for the rape is the rapist. Not the victim. It is not the common images of sex in advertisements and on the Internet. Not society’s rejection of moral norms that are hundreds or thousands of years old.
The LDS church and other religious hierarchies can help a lot if they adopt a really realistic and healthy attitude toward sex. If they understand that young people of all races and orientations naturally feel a lot of pressure, not only from a corrupt society and from each other, but also from their biological coding, to engage in potentially racist and potentially destructive behavior.
The Church, and all churches, as well as schools, health care providers and families, would give everyone a much stronger foundation for a healthy life if they were less eager to rule and more interested in teaching, supporting, listening, and just being there.
In the realm of human feelings, there must be many people who engage in sexual activity and subsequently feel bad about it. Not that they were forced or coerced, necessarily, just because they weren’t willing. When that happens, they should not be pushed into denial or blamed as a director. They should be allowed to feel remorse and remorse, if that is how they feel, it is better to talk about their feelings and never feel that they have crossed some kind of personal Rubicon in such a way that they are now damaged goods. Or because they did it once they are expected to do it again, even if they don’t want to.
The lesson that some young women say they have been taught by religious leaders is that any premarital sexual activity on their part – willingly or forcibly – turns a woman into a “bite of gum” that no one else wants. That’s a terrible thing to tell anyone. It discourages people from being honest with themselves and others, and makes it very difficult to seek support, whether from a parent, friend, religious leader or, where appropriate, the criminal justice system.
If people could talk openly and honestly about sex and their own feelings, without fear of being judged, it would be easier to say and hear a lot of the things that need to be said and heard.
Like yes.” “No.” and “Get the hell away from me.”
George Pyle Opinion Editor for The Salt Lake Tribune.