Sunday, March 22, 2009

No Criminal Charges Filed Against Accused Mormon Sex Abuser Todd Summers In California Due To Lack Of Evidence

On March 21st, 2009, the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot reported that no charges were filed or are contemplated against accused sex abuser Todd Summers because of lack of evidence.

Both Newport Beach and Costa Mesa police investigated Todd C. Summers, 37, of Costa Mesa, for accusations that he had carried on a sexual relationship with a boy in the church. Newport Beach police determined that any potential crimes occurred in Costa Mesa. Afterwards, Costa Mesa detectives investigated the claims and turned over their findings to prosecutors, who declined to file charges.

Summers, a former Sheriff’s Department reserve officer, was also investigated by the department on allegations that he used his authority to enter a young boy’s home, he said in a deposition. Charges were not filed in that case. Summers and the department severed ties in 2008.

But Vince Finaldi, who's representing the plaintiff in the case (identified only as John Doe), claims both the authorities and the LDS Church are stonewalling. Finaldi believes Summers was never charged because he refused to cooperate with Costa Mesa detectives, and also because the LDS Church "hid" behind its lawyers, hindering any investigation. Finaldi’s client is accusing Summers of molesting him for nearly a decade, starting when the boy was 11 or 12 years old. The plaintiff, referred to in the lawsuit as John Doe, is seven years younger than Summers. The details of the suit were earlier discussed HERE.

When John Doe did approach church leaders in 2007 with his claims, Finaldi claims the church's investigation was "laughable", citing the following reaction from the Newport Beach Stake President in a deposition:

“When I met with Todd in, I guess it was January, and discussed the things that had been brought up...at that point in time I had to make a determination of whether I felt I needed to proceed with acting upon this, believing that I needed to proceed,” said Weatherford Clayton, president of the Newport Beach stake of the Mormon church in a deposition.

“And as I asked him questions carefully and when I heard his answers — and I did my best with my experience and with trying to feel what the Spirit is telling me — I thought I could believe him...so, at that point in time, there was no reason to start a file” of a complaint, Clayton said.

Clayton told Finaldi that the church’s instructions for leaders is to call a hotline number, not authorities, when sexual molestation complaints come up. This was the first time he ever had to call it, Clayton said. According to the Church's latest guidance on this issue, published in 2005, this is true up to a certain point. The first responsibility of a bishop or stake president is to call the hot line. Only if the person actually fesses up is the leader required to contact the authorities. From Clayton's account, it appears there was not enough substantiation to notify the authorities.

Meanwhile, in response to the newest lawsuit, Robert Crockett, attorney for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said no one had ever complained about Summers before his accuser came forward in 2007. Church leaders never noticed anything inappropriate about Summers’ behavior.

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