Local Mormon church and missionary accused in child sex abuse case

Former Valley resident files lawsuit against Mormon church for child sex abuse

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Jacqueline Tyler, 42, of Rancho Cugamonga, said she was only 13 when a missionary at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Palm Desert repeatedly sexually abused her from July to November of 1985. She gave birth to a son on June 30, 1986.

"He tried to convince me to get an abortion," said Tyler. "I think that's what he wanted me to do. Get rid of the proof. Get rid of the child."

The former Palm Desert resident filed a lawsuit Friday with the Riverside County Superior Court in Palm Springs. It claims the Mormon Church, its members and the 24-year-old missionary tried to cover up the child sex abuse.

"This family came forward and was told, 'Be quiet. Go away.'" said Attorney Michael Kinslow.

Tyler said the bishop at the time encouraged her to give the child up for adoption. She refused and raised her son herself.

"I was led to believe it was my fault when I was the child. I was the victim, not him," said Tyler.

Nearly 27 years later, Tyler wants the church and people involved held accountable.

"I'm just tired of people doing this and getting away with it, and people covering it up to not look bad. I want to see some justice," she said.

Eric Hawkins, a spokesperson at the church headquarters in Utah, emailed us the following statement regarding the lawsuit.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. We are examining the allegations and will respond appropriately."

"My hope is that this church, denomination does the right thing," said Kinslow.

It's only the beginning of the legal journey, but Tyler said she hopes the church and similar organizations take further action to protect their children.

"Be proactive. Do background checks. Look at people. Just because they're church members doesn't mean they're not capable of doing something like this," she said.

Most Popular Stories

Photo Galleries