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Lawsuit: Mormon Church leaders in San Diego turned a blind eye to a report of an elder molesting his daughter

A new lawsuit demands the LDS Church take responsibility for refusing to report the molestation by the woman's father, who was an elder at the time.

Dorian Hargrove, Carlo Cecchetto, Jon Stinebaugh

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Published: 11:26 PM PST November 14, 2022
Updated: 11:27 PM PST November 14, 2022

Warning: This story contains graphic accounts of the sexual abuse of a minor. Some of the details are disturbing.

Elizabeth P says her father, an elder at a San Diego-area chapter of the Mormon Church, told her that he became sexually aroused the first time he held her as an infant.

Sexual abuse by her father, who served at a ward in Lemon Grove, is all she ever knew from the days after she was born in 1983 to when she was a teenager.

Her father, Maynard McFarland, was convicted of molesting his daughter and spent 15 years in a California prison. He was released in 2020 and now lives in a small home in Chula Vista.

Now, Elizabeth wants answers. She says she wants to know why local church leaders in Chula Vista willingly turned a blind eye, discouraging her and her mother from going to the police after her mother caught her orally copulating with him at just five years of age.  

Elizabeth is one of many victims of child sex abuse around the country who are now attacking the policies and procedures that they say religious institutions, including the Latter Day Saints, use to dissuade victims from going to authorities in hopes of fending off negative publicity. Many of the accounts are mirror images of the abuse and the alleged failure by local church leaders to report it to authorities.

Elizabeth, like other victims, says instead of action, church leaders told her father to read more scripture and go to counseling, essentially allowing the abuse to continue unabated for 13 years.

Elizabeth - CBS 8 does not use the full name of those sexually assaulted as minors - hopes to get those answers through a lawsuit she has filed against the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. In her lawsuit, Elizabeth claims the church is responsible for not reporting the abuse when they discovered it and for failing to ensure her safety as well as the safety of other potential victims.

Now, nearly two decades after the abuse, after years of self-harming behavior, cutting herself, and attempts at suicide in an effort to suppress what she has gone through, Elizabeth says she is still haunted by statements her dad made to her about his desire for young girls.

"My dad knew his predilection long before he was even married to my mom. He admitted that he had molested a girl when he was a teenager," said Elizabeth. "I don't know how old the child was or who the child was, but that's what he told us."

"He knew even before I was born that he couldn't have a girl. He would tell my mom, 'we're having a boy; we are having a boy.' He would not hear anybody talk about possibly having a girl because he absolutely knew that if he had a girl, then he would molest her. He admitted this as I got older that he knew as soon as I was born that it would happen."

Excerpts from CBS 8's interview with Elizabeth on her abuse and the inaction from the Mormon Church

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