In early February 2018, a twenty-year-old man named Benjamin Alyk contacted the Davis County Attorney’s Office in Utah and informed them that he was prepared to confess to having manufactured and distributed child pornography when he was 15 and 16 years old. Alyk, a member of the Mormon Church, had confessed to the crime to his church leaders 14 months prior and they never contacted the authorities.
In early May, the videos of this year’s Jehovah’s Witness Convention were leaked via a TransferXL link. The videos were promptly uploaded to Rutube, a Russian competitor to YouTube. The videos have since been removed from both TransferXL and Rutube. Rutube states that the content was removed by request of the copyright holder.
Today, the Truth & Transparency Foundation has made these videos available for public viewing once again.
In a letter leaked online dated May 13, 2019, it was revealed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses made sweeping changes to the practice they are best known for: proselytizing. Addressed “to all congregations in Britain and Ireland”, the letter notes that Witnesses are “accustomed to collecting personal data” on the recipients of their teachings. However, in the next paragraph, proselyting Witnesses, or publishers, are directed to “not collect personal data in connection with the field ministry”.
In other religions, the knowledge of otherwise concealed policies has often empowered its membership to act. Many of these same letters were quickly made available in English days after they were given to elders. This is the first time they are widely available to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brazil and Portugal in their native tongue.
On April 2, 2019, Sterling Van Wagenen, noted film director and producer, was indicted in Utah on a single count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. An arrest warrant [embed document] was issued on April 4 and Van Wagenen posted bail of $75,000 on April 8. The charge is a first degree felony which, according to the charging document [document embedded here], carries a 15 year minimum sentence and up to life imprisonment if he is convicted.
Last Thursday, Dallin Oaks of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, took to the stand and appealed a policy that caused a massive uproar in the Mormonism. The rescission of the policy seemingly created as large a shock as its implementation with hundreds of Mormons taking to social media to express their surprise, praise, and excitement. However, the reaction in the LGBT community did not express the same sentiments.
A book exploring the life and teachings of Russell M. Nelson, current President of the Mormon Church, underwent a last minute edit before its public release on April 8, 2019. The publisher, Deseret Book, became aware that the book contained a faith promoting story with material inaccuracies.The story was subsequently removed and the book reprinted in time for its scheduled release.
A document received through an open records request by the Truth and Transparency Foundation (TTF) from the Sandy Police Department has revealed that Van Wagenen is currently under investigation for a sex offense.
In February 2003, Deseret Book, the Mormon Church’s publishing arm, released a book penned by Alonzo Gaskill titled, The Lost Language of Symbolism: An Essential Guide for Recognizing and Interpreting Symbols of the Gospel. Upon investigation, it was found that many ideas and phrases in this book were directly copied from InterVarsity Press’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.
Days after molesting David, Van Wagenen’s son's friend, Sterling Van Wagenen turned himself into police at the Salt Lake County Sheriff's office. In a transcript obtained by the Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF), Van Wagenen implies he was encouraged to turn himself in by his therapist in Provo, Utah.
The TTF unequivocally supports California SB 360. It both protects survivors of abuse and holds religious institutions accountable while respecting the constitutional right to religious freedom. Religious repentance should always include restitution, and, in all criminal situations like that of abuse, restitution can only be made when justice is served by the laws of the land.
On February 4, 2019, rumors of the release of a new Elders manual, meant only for the eyes of the top leaders in each congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW), began to surface on ex-JW forums across the Internet. Less than 24 hours later, the manual was leaked and seemingly non-stop analysis and comparison to previous versions began. In addition to the already released Elders manual, today the TTF also releases another internal manual, often informally referred to as the “branch manual”.
In an audio recording obtained by the Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF), Van Wagenen describes a double life he lived for decades. After recognizing his bisexuality, he admitted to multiple extramarital affairs with both men and women, as well as one instance of sex abuse perpetrated on a minor.
According to an email obtained by the Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF), a Mormon leader asked members to attend one of the three information sessions and oppose proposed sex education curriculum changes. According to the leader, the proposed curriculum contains “...highly offensive, controversial, age-inappropriate and inaccurate material that would be inconsistent with the standards of any home, family or parent in our stake.”
On the afternoon of Monday December 31, 2018, the Truth and Transparency Foundation (TTF) was issued four separate takedown requests for a total of 63 documents. The request came from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, more commonly known as “Watch Tower”, the governing organization of the religious group known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses
We, at the TTF, believe that any exemption of clergy members in mandatory reporting laws is an affront to the safety and well-being of abuse survivors and provides an environment where predators are enabled.
To answer the demand for similar results across the entire spectrum of high demand religions, the MormonLeaks team is pleased today to announce FaithLeaks. FaithLeaks, like MormonLeaks, is founded on the belief that increased transparency results in fewer untruths, less corruption, and less abuse in any organization.