Utah law firm and lawmaker helped LDS Church hide abuse, lawsuit alleges

By Michael Rezendes and Jason Dearen
The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah law firm and lawmaker helped LDS Church hide abuse, lawsuit alleges

Three children who were sexually abused by their father are accusing a Utah legislator and a prominent Salt Lake City law firm of conspiring with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to cover up the abuse, allowing it to go on for years.

In a court filing in Cochise County, Ariz., made public Wednesday, the children of the late Paul Adams asked a judge for permission to add state Rep. Merrill F. Nelson, R-Grantsville, and the law firm Kirton McConkie as defendants in their lawsuit against the church.

The suit accuses the Utah-based faith of failing to notify police or child welfare officials that Adams was abusing his older daughter.

In 2010, Adams confessed to his bishop, John Herrod, that he had sexually abused his daughter, according to legal records. Herrod reported the abuse to a church “abuse help line” and was advised not to report it to police or child welfare officials. The abuse was kept secret, and Adams continued raping his older daughter and her younger sister for several years. Adams was later charged by federal officials with posting videos of the abuse on the internet.

Herrod’s decision not to report came after speaking with Nelson, according to church records included as evidence in the case. Nelson was a shareholder at Kirton McConkie, which has more than 160 attorneys, according to its website. Nelson was one of several lawyers at the firm who routinely fielded calls made by Latter-day Saint bishops to the help line.

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