LDS Church releases statement on mission president released, excommunicated in 2014

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 26, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Thursday about a mission president who was dishonorably released and excommunicated in the spring of 2014 following allegations of abuse.

Philander Knox Smartt III was removed from his position as a mission president in Puerto Rico after church officials were contacted with reports that he had victimized the female missionaries under his spiritual care with lies and “immoral and sinful behavior.”

No further details were disclosed. The LDS Church spokesman said all the victims were older than 18, and did not press charges.

The full LDS Church statement follows:

We feel profound sorrow for what each of these women has experienced. It is particularly heartbreaking that they have suffered because of the actions of a man who should have been a trusted priesthood leader. As followers of Jesus Christ, we want to do all within our power to both alleviate suffering and prevent abuse.

This is a tragic and heartbreaking case of deception and betrayal that has impacted many lives. When Church leaders learned of what had occurred, the mission president was immediately and dishonorably released from his position, sent home and excommunicated from the Church.

The victims, as adults, chose not to pursue criminal charges. The mission president was replaced by a General Authority who was sent to minister to those who had been affected.The sister missionaries who had been deceived and victimized were provided with ecclesiastical and emotional counseling, which continues to be offered to this time.

The wife and family of the mission president have been assisted by the Church with the legal, emotional and personal consequences resulting from the immoral and sinful behavior of one man. We continue to ask members and leaders to embrace those harmed by such tragic situations with love, help, and the hope available through Jesus Christ.


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