Ritual abuse is a form of sex trafficking which falls within the category of human trafficking. Ritual abuse is the worse form of sex trafficking. Unlike domestic violence, molestation or rape, ritual abuse involves far more sadistic acts of violence with dire outcomes. The programming that’s implemented has life long spiritual, mental and emotional consequences. The problem is that our government and it’s alphabet agencies don’t take ritual abuse into consideration when tabulating their crime statistics. Why? Because most ritual abuse goes unreported. Why? Because the parents knew their child was being abused, but they did nothing. That is the sad reality. The vast majority of victims had parents who willingly gave their son or daughter up for this type of abuse. Can’t imagine that happening? Well think again. Those parents themselves were abused or they were gaining a reward for their cooperation such as church callings, money, endowments, positions, etc.
Recently, Relentless Hope, along with a partnering organization, submitted a proposal to reform laws federally and on a state level to open up avenues for survivors to obtain justice more expediently. This report was sent to Congress Burgess Owens whose office requested our input. There were many laws currently that do not work in the favor of survivors including issues of statutes of limitations, shortened prison terms for perpetrators, mandatory reporting requirements, and many others which seem to favor the perpetrator instead of protecting children. In fact the most egregious law is the Priest Penitent Privilege (PPP) law which allows clergy, bishops and church leaders to remain silent on child abuse that is reported to them by members under counsel. This law has obviously been used to protect the churches and perpetrators for decades. It has been essentially used to absolve the church from any responsibility. In 2020, Utah Rep. Angela Romero, introduced HB90 seeking to eliminate the clergy exception in state statute. By no surprise both the LDS and Catholic churches rejected HB 90, therefore, the current law stands.
Another positive bill has been introduced by Ken Ivory, HB 333, which was filed in March 2023. The bill eliminates the current statutes of limitations for certain child sex crimes both in criminal and civil cases. Relentless Hope fully supports this bill. In addition, we submitted recommendations to Congressman Owens which further extends the penalties for those found guilty with stiffer prison sentences and fines. We also identified companies, such as banks that allow laundering of monies obtained from trafficking, to be held responsible and fined for such activity. The fines collected would be used to fund government grant programs to support nonprofits, agencies, and organizations who serve survivors of trafficking. These funds would be earmarked to provide survivors the counseling, medical and shelter they need to heal.
Our proposal covered so much more which we can’t go into detail in this article. We are hopeful that Congressman Owens reads our reforms and takes them into consideration.