Karin's Reviews > The Sins of Brother Curtis: A Story of Betrayal, Conviction, and the Mormon Church

The Sins of Brother Curtis by Lisa  Davis
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's review
Aug 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from August 01 to 27, 2011

A riveting book about how a group of lawyers went up against the Mormon church to make the church accountable for sexual molestations that happened as a result of the church knowingly keeping pedophiles in its ranks without informing the rest of the local congregation and allowing the known pedophile to keep having positions where he is in contact with young children.

Frank Curtis was an elderly gentleman when he joined the church. However unlike the grandfatherly image he portrayed, he was actually a former criminal who had spent years in prison. He became an ‘elder’ in the church (a position attained by most men after a worthiness interview by the stake president -the leader of a group of local congregations). Then he got positions of teaching the young boys even after local leaders know that he molested boys. After he had finally been excommunicated for sexual abuse, he repented, had some counselling and was rebaptized into the church. He then was again given jobs with the young boys in the congregations giving him the ability to continue his molestations.

Tim Kosnoff and his team of lawyers battle the church’s strategy to drag the case out: objecting to each question during depositions, barraging the lawyers with reams of paperwork, objecting to handing over church papers, telling Mormon witnesses to refuse to answer questions during the depositions stating they are against the first Amendment. But instead of backing down, Kosnoff kept working at the case and kept finding more information and witnesses and victims left in Curtis’s wake.

Some quotes I found interesting:

“From the moment of baptism or rebaptism, according to LDS belief, the sins of the past are literally washed away and can no longer be acknowledged. The baptized Mormon starts anew with a ‘clean slate’. …It would be a violation of the Mormon faith to consider his [Frank’s] history of molesting children prior to rebaptism in any decision to call him to a position within the church…

“Its lawyers even seemed to be arguing that Jeremiah [ the plaintiff, who had been molested by Curtis when he was a young boy] had somehow accepted the risk of encountering a pedophile in following the Mormon religion…., [The church’s] lawyers wrote: “Plaintiff, having voluntarily agreed to abide by, and be governed by, church law cannot now challenge the procedure for, and effect of a fellow member’s rebaptism into the church.” (pp 150-1)

“There was no reason anyone in the ward would have known why Frank Curtis had been excommunicated, or that he had been accused of child sexual abuse, unless they’d been told by someone in the church hierarchy. Brother Curtis was assumed to be the same as the people who trusted him. Mormon culture tends to be insulated…., and it was even more so in Grand Rapids…. Ward members turned to each other for help and advice. They acted in service to each other… for the common good of their religious community. They shared a specific belief system and a lifestyle designed to exclude the sins of the outside world. And they accepted on faith that their brothers and sisters had been through the same worthiness tests that they had, believed the same things, had the same standards. Ward members believed that their leaders had been inspired by God when they called people into positions of trust. All of this had made them feel safe….

“…years after, Jack…offered a troubling observation: The very things that made their religion a strong spiritual community may well have made them vulnerable to the likes of this serial pedophile. “Frank Curtis in the Mormon church was like the perfect storm.” (p. 247)


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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Strider Wow. That's horrible. You'd think, beliefs or no, common sense would still hold sway enough that this guy wouldn't be given jobs with young boys.

Karin No. And the sick part is that we were part of that church for so long. ug.

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