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Mormon Discussion: 343: Kindra Celani: The Axe Forgets, The Tree Remembers

We will be discussing the topic of Sex Abuse and while not discussing the incidents specifically this episode may be triggering to some.

Today we sit down with a friend Kindra Celani and discuss her experience with Sex Abuse and its connection to the LDS Church.  She shares how her abuser used Mormonism as a shield for his predatory behavior and how the LDS Church’s local untrained leaders seemed unable sense their duty in reporting her abuse to the authorities.  On top of that recent events show that the top leaders within institutional Mormonism have set as a priority protecting the Church over reaching out with love and sincerity to the victims of abuse.




16 thoughts on “Mormon Discussion: 343: Kindra Celani: The Axe Forgets, The Tree Remembers”

  1. First of all, I’m truly sorry what Kindra had to go through. I’m sorry that the church hasn’t been competent enough to handle this situation. I can see how the church seeks to protect itself from potential sue cases. I think we are all at fault here.

    I agree with that the church is a very human organization. I think the church is a very large organization and it’s head doesn’t know where it’s feet is. I know mistakes are made every where.

    I wonder if showing compassion for the church and for the perpetrator is a healthier path to healing. I don’t know what Kindra went through… but what would justice look like for her?

    What would the Perpetrator need to suffer or how the church own up for it’s mistakes that would properly rectify this situation?

    I think we forget that the mission of the church is to show love and compassion for all even perpetrators. It’s not about protecting them… it’s about forgiving them too. I think when we become unforgiving then the hurt stays and lingers.

    How we accommodate, protect, support victims needs to be much improved too. I’m not sure what that is supposed to look like. I suppose it’s not an easy world to live in… but having the victim allow the re-baptism of a perpetrator seems like it was the right thing to do, but too bad this wasn’t properly followed when it should have.

    I think victims can become just as heartless as the perpetrators making the punishment bigger than the crime if we are not careful and keep things in proper context and sight.

    I’m speaking in general here, I don’t know what Kindra case should be or outcome should look like. From what I heard, he shouldn’t be allowed to be back in church and he should have been sent through the legal system for his actions. It’s sad that church members oblivious to this situation are only trying to show love, mercy, and compassion to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Honestly, I don’t know… I wish there was a way to fix the past for everyone.

    Please delete this comment if it’s not fitting…

    1. As a victim of an LDS sexual abuse coverup, I find this comment truly offensive. Wanting perpetrators and organizations to be held accountable for their misdeeds, which have caused immeasurable harm, isn’t heartless. It’s what is required in order to ensure children will be protected going forward and that these abuses and coverups don’t continue. How in the world can anyone say a sexual abuse victim can make the punishment bigger than the crime?! No punishment could ever be greater than the life-long effects of abuse on a child. Please educate yourself.

  2. Based on what I know about her situation (and others I’ve heard about), I strongly believe the Church process is VERY calculated on how these abuse situations are handled. My belief is that the Church knows EXACTLY what they are doing. Attorney’s are heavily involved in this process. “Protecting the good name of the Church” is a high-priority goal/objective in this effort. My two cents…

  3. I’ve read anon’s comment and am responding before I have listened. As a victim of sexual abuse by a medical professional and him being protected on a church level but punished by the court of the land, I speak from first hand knowledge. At least my own knowledge.
    Forgiveness is great. But do you know what goes hand in hand? Accountability. When the court system found him guilty it was HUGE for me. His sentence was way lighter than I would have liked but what a difference being found guilty did for me. I think it helped me move to forgiveness much quicker. And yes,being put on the stand to testify then being cross examined was excruciating. I did it for the women coming behind me so they would be protected from that man. I did not pursue any “church help” after one meeting with a bishop. It was immediately perceived on my part how that would add to my trauma. How hypocritical church representatives are when lip service is given to, ” be honest in all your dealings”. Undeniably, truth is not important when something may put a poor light on the church. Everyone takes a back seat to the reputation of the church, even God.

    1. The times have certainly changed. I think society as a whole has moved much harsher towards sexual predators than it was accustom to so doing in the past.

      There is some wisdom contained in 2 Cor 2:7-8 which is similar to D&C 64:9-10. To a certain extent one doesn’t find joy again until one is able to put the aggressors trespass in the past.

      Granted one shouldn’t be repeatedly exposed to being re-traumatized and healthy boundaries need to be set up.

      Perhaps we can equate sexual abuse with physical abuse… where undesired touch is equivalent to a physical assault or being physically punched, and sexual penetration perhaps equivalent to being stabbed with a weapon or knife.

      I’m not sure what is on the law books for such instances. I am guessing no one would want to be in the same ward with someone with whom you had a physical fight with. For such cases, the aggressor ought to go to a different ward, or not be welcome back to church altogether until the victim can forgive the attacker.

      In this case it sounds like the victim was “stabbed” perhaps even in multiple occasions, and perhaps did so to multiple people, and the church mishandled the situation by not turning him over to the police all in the name of love and compassion.

      Yet as rightly pointed out Kindra did call out the perpetrator and he ought to have been sent to the authorities, because having justice does facilitate forgiveness.

      Sometimes we mistakenly assume what forgiveness ought to look like. It doesn’t necessarily mean a reconciliation, and perhaps it also doesn’t need to include withdrawing justice or the desire of some form of retribution or punishment. Even though traditionally it has been the case. I suppose only God through his guiding spirit can indicate the proper path to self healing and a sense of fairness.

      Without being a victim I couldn’t truly know what is fair and just, but it sounds like in Kindra’s situation some sort of compensation is due for the mishandling of her case. Something that would allow physical and emotional healing to return.

      I suppose if I were stabbed I would want nothing to do with this person ever again in the future. I wouldn’t want to share the same space ever again. I would hope if he were ever baptized that he didn’t have access to me and that he would not punch or stab anyone else in the future. If he did, he should be permanently kicked out and wait for the afterlife fix itself in this regard.

      Sorry for over analyzing this whole situation, I wanted to wrap my head around this and understand what it would be like to walk in Kindra’s shoes, while at the same time still want to be faithful to the spirit of Christ that requires us to forgive all men.

  4. Sexual Abuse Survivor here. Just a few comments: the church, or “anon”, or even me, doesn’t get to tell Kindra if she has or has not forgiven ‘enough’. This is her story and her recovery. Abuse cannot be compared to a cut to the skin or muscle, or a broken bone. Abuse leaves a highway of broken trust, broken identity, and a heartbreaking sadness that ebbs and flows. If victims sound angry, let it be. As I see it, church leadership has an obligation to shut up, listen and learn before they can even begin to internalize the harm they have fostered. I nod humbly to you, Kindra, and wish you peace.

  5. My brother was abused to who knows what extent by his employer when he was just a kid. He was a very kind and generous man who offered a handsome amount of salary. I never understood why he didn’t want to continue working for him as 12-13 year old. I don’t remember the age exactly. But he ended up telling me that he was abused by him. I never asked again about the incident and he never brought it up. 20 years after I followed up asking if he wanted to press charges. He said no. I suppose 90% of incidences never go reported or punished. He said he had forgiven him already and had moved on with his life, but it did play out some emotional strain on him that took probably like 10 years to recover fully from at least.

    I don’t think victims ought to be held blameless of the fact of their emotional well being. We all need to practice mental health and self care. If we keep repeating the victim card we can never own up to personal responsibility of our own mental well being.

    I think this is my biggest issue with mental illness, is that it seems we can claim emotional injury and be forever a victim of circumstances. We can just keep blaming everything on a single point of our life.

    Although, when I think of physical injuries, I suppose some do take a long time to recover from and in some instances we may never fully recover, but there are people out there that fake the physical injuries or amplify the physical injuries in order to continually gather sympathy and welfare benefits, although I like to think that these are the exceptions rather than the norm.

    I guess we can quickly all see how this get very complicated. Sorry, if I’m being heartless for victims… but I just want to make sure that punishments don’t exceed the crime. Then again, I’m no one to judge, but I can’t help but judging, I just hope I have a fair sense of judgement for both parties. I would hope the law punishes attackers to the same extent as would a physical assault would.

    1. Anon are you “victim blaming”? Children have ZERO FAULT in being molested. ZERO. Child sexual abuse interrupts a child’s emotional and mental formation. The secrecy, Shame and guilt of abuse damages the mental health of the victim. Seeing church authority minimize what the abuser did to a victim keeps the cycle of shame and self hatred ongoing. There is NO FAULT ON THE PART OF THE VICTIM. An abuser is a criminal who is breaking the laws of the land.
      Child sex abuse is a CRIME. The man who molested Kendra is a CRIMINAL. The man who molested Kendra is a pedophile. Pedophiles re offend. The church, by protecting these criminals, ALLOWS and ENCOURAGES them to re offend.

      How can parents properly protect their children when the church HIDES AND PROTECTS CRIMINALS by not making the crime public and involving law enforcement? A bishop, stake president or other church leader who doesn’t turn in the abuser is an accessory to a crime. There are laws for a reason. The church’s pride and arrogance are evident when they defy the legal process and invent their own rules.

      This is the most damning evidence against the church that they do not represent God. They victimize women and children from 1) the actual abuse and 2) from the secrecy used to hide the criminal acts. What have we been taught about secret combinations?? Oh yeah, secret combinations destroy nations and civilizations. The church promotes the spread of this infectious disease called “protecting the priesthood holder” and the church will have to pay the piper at some point. It is evil. Plain evil.

      1. Celia,

        Not children, but not learning to move on because some one punched you, stabbed you? (I’ll continue the analogy)
        We need to learn how to forgive too, this is part of their responsibility.

        Least the victim becomes unknowingly the abuser, returning eye for eyes. Tooth for teeth.

        What does justice, forgiveness, supposed to look like in these extreme situations? All this is a very human experience. Yet we punish people to an unhealthy extreme.

        Do not mistake my comments as condoning non-consensual acts. There needs to be a punishment that fits the crime, and these crimes shouldn’t even happen in the first place, but what is the best way to avoid these situations.

        There is a culture change already taking place both inside and outside the church. Let’s show some compassion also towards the church in this arena. There is where I see Bill not playing fair… he shows a lot of empathy for everything except the church (perhaps I exaggerate) lately it looks a lot like that. I repeatedly have called on Bill to be fair with the church, he does a very good job of that, lately not as much.

        The idea is to have love and compassion for all, not protect abusers…

        I don’t want to express any further comments on this topic, I have made myself clear and expressed my position and I’m not interested in having more dialogue on the topic. At least not here, and not on this comment thread. I bow out.

        1. Anon,
          If I was your daughter, how easy would it be for you to move on? The pain of the abuse is not just born by me as the survivor, but the guilt and shame is born by my mother and father for not noticing, and stopping it sooner, for not believing me when I told, for being deceived by the perpetrator.
          If you haven’t lived through it or had a child who lived through it – you will NEVER truly understand that there is no such thing as moving on.

          1. I’m sorry Kindra,

            You are right, I will never understand.
            I won’t understand why we can’t just accept that we are all flawed human beings, none of us perfect, and some are even very bad human beings.

            If you were my daughter I would be giving you the same advice. My daughter hates my guts every time I tell her she need to forgive past boyfriends who were abusive and took advantage of her emotionally. Note, she wasn’t raped, but perhaps just fondled a little more than what she wanted. She sees me with hatred in her eyes for not taking her side and seeing her as a victim.

            I get it… boys can be manipulative, and get upset if you don’t cave in to their lusts, now she hates all men and myself included. Can she really enjoy life until she learns how to forgive and move on?

            You can stay hurt and re-victimizing yourself your entire life and never move on, but in my heart I have to believe that’s a personal choice and not just the only option you have to live the rest of your life?

            So the question I ask my daughter and you? When are you going to forgive? My daughter in her depressed state of mind yells back to me… NEVER!!!

            That response just breaks my heart. For I am but just a man too, and I don’t feel loved by her because I’m just lumped together with all the male jerks out there.

            I hope both you and my daughter learn to love life to the fullest, forgive, and move on. I do hope you are economically compensated for the system failing you, but know that won’t bring you true peace of mind, but I hope it does facilitate the process of coming back to peace with the world knowing that justice has been served.

    2. This is so ignorant. Please read up on the emotional, physical, psychological, & financial effects of sexual abuse before commenting on fair punishment.

      1. Agreed Heather. Anon seems to be a troll – there is no possible way that a real person with a soul would think and say the things she has said. I would not want to be her daughter and I would not be caught taking advice from someone giving advice from a place of ignorance.

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