Operation Underground Railroad retained Kirton McConkie despite the fact they operate a “catch and kill” scheme on behalf of the LDS Church to silence sex abuse victims and their families. The attorney that represents Tim Ballard and O.U.R., Peter Schofield, oversaw the scheme for years.
Three children who were sexually abused by their late father accuses Utah based law firm Kirton McConkie and Republican state Rep. Merrill F. Nelson of conspiring with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), better known as the Mormon Church, in covering up the abuse and allowing it to continue for years.
This comes months after an explosive report by the Associated Press (AP) following their investigation into ongoing operation of a “catch and kill” scheme operated by the law firm of Kirton McConkie on behalf of LDS church.
According to the lawsuit filed in Cochise County, Arizona, the children of Paul Adams who worked for the U.S. Border Patrol filed a motion to add state Rep. Merrill F. Nelson, R-Grantsville, and the law firm Kirton McConkie as defendants in their lawsuit against the LDS church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused of failing to notify police or child welfare officials that Adams was abusing his older daughter.
This suit is one of a litany of cases- both civil and criminal, which the Mormon church and their law firm, Kirton McConkie has been complicit in either failing to notify authorities or covering up for perpetrators after the fact. Even by their own admission.
In 2010, Paul Adams a devout Mormon and U.S. Border Patrol agent, confessed to Bishop John Herrod who was also a family physician that he was sexually abusing his five year-old daughter. Despite the very fact that Herrod was a mandated reporter as a family physician, he instead followed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints policy of contacting the church’s “help line” called “LDS Family Services” first. But the help line was not designed or interested in protecting children.
LDS Family Services Help line Scandal
For several years there has been intense scrutiny on the LDS Family Services help line which is owned and operated by the law office of Kirton McConkie on behalf of Mormon church.
While there has been increased media coverage and awareness regarding the LDS Family Services help line outside of Utah, sadly the Mormon church and Kirton McConkie have done a superb job of silencing and intimidating victims and their families through settlements and bevy of nondisclosure agreements.
Another major issue is the very inconvenient fact that the Mormon church has done a masterful job in preventing media coverage in the state Utah and spinning LDS Family Services as some cutting edge service in their imaginary frontline battle against child sex abuse in the state of Utah.
In courts and outside of Utah, it’s the real world and both the LDS church nor does Kirton McConkie deny the help line’s existence or use, but rather, has defended it. Unfortunately LDS Family Services has been around for decades. It came into existence in response to the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and the subsequent aftermath and fallout from it in the nineties.
Unlike ordinary help lines and like the name implies, “LDS Family Services” was not staffed with professionally trained counselors aimed to assist victims and their families. Even more troubling, the help line was not designed for victims or persons seeking to help or guidance for someone they believed were being abused.
In reality, the help line went directly to the law office of Kirton McConkie, more specifically a group of lawyers for the church.
The intent of “the help line” was not to help victims, their families and/or perpetrators, but rather to shield the LDS church from legal liability and scandal by any means necessary. The number to LDS Family Services was distributed and intended solely for clergy of the LDS church to use, not congregants.
In the event a parishioner confided to a Bishop or other lay clergy that they or someone they knew were being sexually abused by a member of the LDS church, the Bishop or stake president was to call the help line for specific instructions on what to do next. In the meantime and if necessary, lawyers from Kirton McConkie would blitz attack the victim and their family and offer a low settlement and get them under some type gag order or nondisclosure agreement.
The Paul Adams LDS Sex Abuse Scandal
Being an obedient Mormon, Bishop John Herrod did what he felt he supposed to do in the event one of his flock came to him and revealed sex abuse. He called LDS Family Services.
Attorneys at Kirton McConkie instructed Bishop John Herrod not to call police or child welfare officials.
According to church records included as evidence in pretrial documents obtained by the Associated Press, Herrod’s decision not to report the sex abuse to law enforcement and child welfare services came after speaking with Utah state representative Merrill F. Nelson R-Grantsville. Rep. Nelson was a shareholder at Kirton McConkie, and was one of several lawyers at the firm who routinely fielded calls made by Latter-day Saint bishops to the help line.
Documents and pretrial testimony also revealed that attorney Peter Schofield was also consulted in the Adams case back in 2010. According to legal filings, Schofield has long been associated with the “LDS Family Services” help line and is currently one of the lawyers defending the church in the Adamses’ suit.
Peter Schofield is also the attorney for both so-called anti-human trafficking activist Tim Ballard and his nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). Ballard and O.U.R. retained Peter Schofield back in January of 2020 in an effort to intimidate and silence American Crime Journal and I personally. Since then, both Lynn Packer and I have exchanged dozens of emails with Schofield and his secretary for questions and for comment on both our reports and the criminal investigations into both Ballard and O.U.R.
More on that later.
Like an obedient Mormon, Bishop John Herrod kept the abuse secret and for seven years Adams continued to rape his daughter, and later began to sexually abuse his infant daughter.
“They said, ‘You absolutely can do nothing,’” Herrod told investigators with the Department of Homeland Security.
Bishop Herrod continued to counsel Paul Adams and brought in his wife, Leizza Adams, in hopes she would do something to protect the children. She didn’t. Herrod later told a second bishop, Robert “Kim” Mauzy who also kept the matter secret after consulting with church officials who maintain that the bishops were excused from reporting the abuse to police under the state’s so-called clergy-penitent privilege.
In a recorded interview with investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, Herrod said he called the help line and was told that Arizona law barred him from reporting Adams’ abuse and they implied he could be personally sued.
Like John Herrod, Bishop Robert “Kim” Mauzy, legally withheld information about Paul Adams sexually abusing his children from both law enforcement and child welfare authorities also citing “clergy-penitent privilege.”
Except Kirton McConkie and the Mormon church lied to John Herrod and Kim Mauzy. In reality, Arizona’s child-sex-abuse reporting law provides blanket civil and criminal immunity to anyone reporting information about child sex abuse to civil authorities.
They were ignored.
Despite Leizza Adams, LDS Bishops, their higher ups and Kirton McConkie knowing about the abuse, it was was kept secret.
Paul Adams continued raping his older daughter and her younger sister for several years.
It was kept secret in an ongoing effort to minimize scandal and to protect the LDS church’s image.
It is also important to note, that Paul Adams was nothing more than a member of church. He was not an official that acted on behalf of, nor employed by the Mormon Church. Adams was not even lay clergy, a stake president, member of a Quorum, etc… Yet, the LDS church in this case, like so many others before- went through extreme lengths to protect their image, even when they couldn’t have reasonably been considered responsible or liable for some member’s misconduct and crimes.
In 2013, an LDS church disciplinary council headed by Bishop Kim Mauzy was formed regarding Paul Adams ongoing rape and molestation of his children. Paul Adams was excommunicated from the church for his actions.
For years Paul Adams had sought help from the church, which some now speculate that he was hoping perhaps that someone would find some Mormon Exorcist to “cast out demons” in some type of “old Mormon exorcism” that was commonplace just a few decades ago.
Following his excommunication from the LDS church, Paul Adams took to social media, publicly confessing to groups and LDS communities that he molested and raped his daughters, begging and pleading for help and accusing Herrod and the Mormon church of refusing to save his daughters and help him.
Adams was later charged by the U.S. Department of Justice and arrested by Homeland Security after posting videos of the abuse on the internet.
Paul Adams, who had worked for the U.S. Border Patrol, hung himself in his cell in December 2017, while awaiting trial in federal detention in Florence, Arizona. His wife, Leizza Adams served more than two and a half years in Arizona state prison on child sex abuse charges. Three of their six children were taken in by members of her extended family. The remaining three were adopted by Arizona families and they have filed suit against Kirton McConkie and the LDS church.
Disturbing Pattern of Sex Abuse, Cover Ups and Betrayal: The LDS Way
Kirton McConkie is one of the most powerful law firms in the United States. In terms of power and influence, the firm is only second to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state of Utah. With just over 135 attorneys in its network and three law offices, it may seem like a typical midsized firm. In terms of funding with backing by the church, they are unrivaled. Since its inception in 1964, Kirton McConkie has been the LDS church’s legal arm, its sword and shield in both lawsuits and criminal defense. The firm serves as the church’s most trusted policy adviser, legislative advocate and chief enforcer in protecting the Mormon church’s interests.
In 2018, disturbing details emerged two-and-a-half months into the Berkeley County, West Virginia, jury trial against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plaintiffs’ attorney Timothy Kosnoff, represented six Martinsburg, West Virginia, LDS families who’s children had been sexually abused by Michael Jensen, the teenage son of a prominent LDS family in the ward they all attended.
It was uncovered that the church’s attorneys and their respective firm, Kirton McConkie ran a sophisticated “catch and kill” scheme on its behalf.
Disgusted employees working for Kirton McConkie, leaked detailed documents that revealed a scheme unparalleled to any other in church engaged in the art of sex abuse cover ups.
It is absolutely disgusting, that Tim Ballard knowingly hired Peter Schofield at Kirton McConkie, who had personal oversight over LDS Family Services who both enabled and refused to help and stop child sex predator Paul Adams. Schofield sought to preserve the church’s “reputation” as he personally knew that two prepubescent children were being molested and raped by their father, who begged the church to intervene.
On September 11, 2018, the website MormonLeaks a document archival project operated by Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF) nonprofit, had released the leaked internal “living documents” used by attorneys at Kirton McConkie to manage and maintain updates on active sex abuse cases involving their client, the LDS church.
When MormonLeaks reached out to Kirton McConkie for comment, the law firm had only one request, to redact the names of individuals on what they referred to internally as The White Sheet cases and The Green Sheet cases (ACJ will be publishing them shortly).
What is most disturbing and revealing of all, is how Kirton McConkie and the LDS church operated and continues to operate a sophisticated “catch and kill” scheme likely impacting thousands of sex abuse victims and their families from around the world dating all the way back to the early nineties. Following the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church all the way up to the Vatican, both the Mormon church and Kirton McConkie devised a scheme in order to insulate the church from any and all possible exposure to its own sex abuse scandals, which it was and remains more vulnerable too than the Vatican.
Sadly, unlike other churches and the Catholic Church itself who began bankrolling and operating legitimate victim services such as counseling and help lines for both current and potential future victims, the church and Kirton McConkie opened a front organization called “LDS Family Services” which on the surface appeared to be an ordinary religious advocacy group for LDS families, but nothing could be further from the truth- by their own admission.
In reality, the help line was for LDS church Bishops (head of an individual church called a ward in Mormon speak) and leadership to call in the event a parishioner revealed that they themselves or someone they knew was being sexually abused. Rather than going to a team of trained counselors, the help line went directly to Kirton McConkie so they could immediately spring into action, by first ascertaining whether law enforcement had been notified. Then determining if authorities had to be notified by that state’s particular laws and then would advise ward Bishops and other lay clergy not to alert them and figure out a cover story or technicality to get around doing so. Then Kirton McConkie would then blitz attack sex abuse victims and their families, sometimes in little as just a few hours.
From there, the victim and their family were pressured into taking the lowest sum of money possible and made to sign a bevy of legal documents and nondisclosure agreements which in turn made the victims and their families liable for extensive legal damages and fines should they breach the agreement. Not to mention the cultural pressure and subsequent consequences should they disobey the church. It left countless victims, mostly children and their families feeling helpless, knowing they were abandoned by the very institution that was supposed to protect them and sealed them to their loved ones and community.
LDS Culture and the Prison of Sex Abuse Denial
The language and hysteria surrounding “human trafficking” has enabled and emboldened pedophiles simply because it minimizes the very real and rampant problem of child sex abuse. The average American’s attention is diverted and is intrigued by these adult “scary stories”.
Virtually 99% of all Americans rambling on about, and those concerning themselves with “human trafficking” are not just willfully ignorant, but far too uneducated to understand the very complex world of survival sex and politicization of “human trafficking” by law enforcement.
It’s like handing a Calculus book to a person who has never taken pre-Algebra. They’d look you in the eye and say, “this isn’t math! This is gibberish!”. To be honest, I’m certain a person of right wing persuasion, would go further and claim “it’s some type of Chinese or Muslim liberal propaganda”.
Human trafficking prosecutions are very few and far between compared to actual pedophilia and child sex abuse. In fact, human trafficking pales in comparison when juxtaposed to any other category of crime other than stranger abduction which is extremely rare. Since the inception of law enforcement agencies in the United States of America, there has not been a single “kidnapping ring” uncovered nor had there been a single case of a kidnapped American child being trafficked.
The language and hysteria of human trafficking has been a gift for the LDS church as it diverts attention from a very real problem.
Except there are real victims living a nightmare and hundreds of families have been violated and betrayed.
If just a fraction of resources and energy were spent by nonprofits and citizens paranoid and chasing imaginary human traffickers perhaps we could combat things like actual child sex abuse, Utah being the fraud capital of the world or the very rampant problem of child sex abuse cover ups by the Mormon Church.
In 2019, just six months before ACJ and I personally received threats from O.U.R. and their attorney at Kirton McConkie, Peter Schofield and reported on it, Vice News did an investigative piece that centered on a lawsuit by six Martinsburg, West Virginia families and their attorney Timothy Kosnoff against the Mormon church.
This brought Kirton McConkie and the church’s sex abuse hotline to the mainstream. Kosnoff had personally went up against Kirton McConkie in over one hundred sex abuse cases against the LDS church. In the investigative piece Kosnoff even refers to a joke he made to a friend about renaming his firm “Pedophiles R’ Us”.
Over the decades Kosnoff gained a reputation for litigating against some of the most powerful institutions in the United States and world, including the Roman Catholic Church, U.S. military, Boy Scouts of America; and exposed their own cultures of dealing with sex abuse internally.
While most organizations and institutions have done everything in their power to protect their reputations and protect key figures within their respective institutions, the LDS church took it a step further. Most organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church would issue swift denials, downplay the abuse, claim to have disciplined and handled clergy within, the LDS church extended protection to congregants from prominent families and sought to “catch and kill” the victims before authorities and media were alerted and caused harm to the church’s already controversial reputation.
Over the years I’ve spent hundreds of hours interviewing both current and former Mormons, and I’ve learned just how paranoid and suspicious Mormons are of the motives of others for even being slightly critical or even just bringing very basic facts and information to their attention. Mormons are raised and culturally trained to believe that they are victims of a mass conspiracy, not so much as to kill and destroy them, but to separate them from their obedience to the Church which they conflate with “faith”. All one would have to do is look at numerous Facebook or Instagram comments of Mormons accusing other commenters and Lynn Packer and I of being “anti-Mormon” for reporting both facts and allegations against Tim Ballard alone.
How sex abuse differs from other institutions in “Mormon culture” is beliefs and practices such as Lying for the Lord that Mormons must adhere to. Another major issue is the practice of “excommunication”, which is very similar to the practices of “disconnection” in Scientology and “disfellowship” in Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Even more troubling, if sex abuse victims and/or their friends and family came forward and were just slightly critical, much less filing a lawsuit- against the LDS church for their role in the abuse and subsequent cover-up, they’re shunned and receive little to no support from fellow parishioners due to what they perceive as “anti-Mormon” or even Satanic behavior.
The most concerning issue regarding “Mormon culture” is members strict adherence to the institution itself. While certain policies and agendas can be openly opposed, there are certain things you cannot criticize, especially when it comes to doctrine, history, prophecy and revelation- all which require a pretty significant disconnect from reality.
“A Mormon’s faith is extremely frail compared to other faiths, when it comes to outside influence”, Lynn Packer told me in our very first conversation. “It requires you to be obedient, not faithful. Church doctrine uses obedience and faith interchangeably as one and the same. Mormon faith is actually obedience, but as you and I know, they are not the same things. You can be very obedient and do very bad things under the assumption of good faith, just like Nazi Germany”.
Mormons are raised and instructed to believe that anything someone says that is negative about the LDS church or its past- is anti-Mormon. They consider you a liar and they immediately distrust you. No matter how much evidence you have and pure your intentions may be. In their eyes you have an evil agenda to put their soul at hazard.
It is that very cultural pressure, combined with the prison of belief that members of the Mormon church must separate themselves from integrating with non-Mormons “culturally”. Perhaps things begin to make way too much sense? Church leadership knows this, which is why from a young age they are taught that it’s “evil” and “anti-Mormon”, some deliberate act to separate them from their god.
This is also why the LDS church discourages religious debates with atheists, Muslims and other Christians. Which is a subject I plan to cover to give those who know little about the Mormon church and Mormon culture and understand exactly why they fear outside engagement when it comes to religion.
If you thought Muslim apologetics (which is rather new) is horrible, just listen to a Mormon try to debate. Their cultural alienation and refusal to engage in “the tough questions” for generations until very recently is glaring and embarrassing. For most Mormons today, throughout their childhood they’ve had facts and reality readily available to them since the internet.
One thing is for sure, the LDS church is hemorrhaging members- especially after the CES letter.
Sadly, those that remain are becoming more radicalized.
Tim Ballard and O.U.R. ignore and bankroll LDS Sponsored Child Sex Abuse
Over the last two and-a-half years, both Lynn Packer and I have asked Tim Ballard, his sister and O.U.R. Director of Public Relations Emily Evans repeatedly about Kirton McConkie’s creation and involvement in a “catch and kill” scheme for the LDS church. We’ve asked Peter Schofield and Brent Andrewsen at Kirton McConkie who represents both Tim Ballard and O.U.R., for proof of Ballard’s claims.
Also, we repeatedly asked O.U.R.’s former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Ballard’s sister-in-law Teyva Ware whom he has repeatedly called his “sister” until her rapid exit under the pressure of multiple criminal investigations; for itemized expenses, detailed financials and to explain a litany of suspect transactions to Ballard’s own for-profit businesses and his friends’. We asked why nearly half of all donations sit in the bank, millions in liquid cash as they continue to push for urgency to combat this so-called “150 billion dollar industry”?
We also asked if any donor money was donated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They refused to answer despite the fact that Tim Ballard himself illustrated how money was being funneled to the church along with his for profit businesses during the Whiteboard meeting.
It has also been revealed, that for nearly a decade, Ballard has been asked directly by LDS families and dozens of child sex abuse victims have asked O.U.R. for some form of assistance. From being rescued outright, for aftercare services or just being pointed towards available government resources.
They were ignored.
Ultimately, it’s all of Ballard’s theater and posturing that he exposes himself for the fraud and charlatan that he really is. He is the master of projection, hysterical denials and fantastic stories without a shred of evidence. He is captain of the O.U.R. grift sailing aimlessly into the sea of right-wing pedophile and human trafficking delusions while Utahans in his own community are sexually abused and threatened and intimidated by the LDS church’s chief enforcer, Kirton McConkie.
As I illustrated in a previous article. They masquerade in public as this brute force that liberates women and children from the clutches of “human sex trafficking”, yet turn around and hires a law firm with not just the reputation of protecting the LDS church from sex abuse claims, but the perpetrators. It gets worse than that. As the laws changed that required clergy and these nonprofit religious institutions to report sex abuse claims, the LDS church snubbed their nose at the law and the victims. Instead, their law firm, Kirton McConkie helped set up a hotline for the Bishops to call, in a “catch and kill” scheme so business could go on as usual.
How can any organization, any legitimate one for that matter, claim they are rescuing women and children overseas from “sex traffickers”, yet hire Kirton McConkie?
We know, because we too were the victims of Kirton McConkie. Over two years ago, Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad hired the law firm of Kirton McConkie in an attempt to intimidate American Crime Journal from further reporting on, and releasing uncovered communication and materials from then O.U.R. executive Jon Lines. These materials and witness accounts illustrated both Lines and O.U.R.’s misconduct during the community’s search for Karlie Guse. It was that very cease and desist letter that we found so intriguing, that I decided to set our sights on Operation Underground Railroad and Tim Ballard for our next ACJ Investigates series that is still ongoing.
At the time, other than a few random Reddit posts questioned the legitimacy of Operation Underground Railroad. Utah media acted as nothing more than the advertising department for Ballard.
After our report on Ballard and Kirton McConkie’s threats and attempts to suppress the First Amendment, the free press- Tim fell victim to the Streisand effect. The walls came tumbling down.
When it comes to LDS church sex abuse victims and little girls sexually assaulted under Ballard’s watch, he has repeatedly opted to protect the reputation of Operation Underground Railroad and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints above all else. Ballard has repeatedly demonstrated that he views Mormon men who sexually abuse, rape and exploit children as just some “moral failing”, that requires spiritual guidance.
Yet when it comes to minorities and non-Mormons and a film crew, it’s showtime. He knows it sells and feeds into America’s latest hysteria with scary human trafficking exploitation films.
Resources and Further Reading
The Mormon Church Has Been Accused of Using a Victims’ Hotline to Hide Claims of Sexual Abuse (vice.com)
(7) How Mormon church ‘help line’ hid child sex abuse – YouTube
Victims want Utah Rep. Merrill F. Nelson and law firm Kirton McConkie added to LDS sex abuse lawsuit (sltrib.com)
Appellate court grants oral arguments in LDS church sexual abuse lawsuit | Bisbee | myheraldreview.com
File:2012-10-31-Designated Cases – Active-White Sheet Report-Kirton McConkie.pdf – MormonLeaks™ Wiki
Operation Underground Railroad Retains Controversial Firm Kirton McConkie, Threatens Legal Action Against ACJ – American Crime Journal |