There wasn’t much about the three men, other than their considerable height, that drew even the most casual glance in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. They walked slowly across the plaza Monday, a vague similarity imbrued in each face.
But each brother carried an identical dark secret left over from childhood.
Today they stood before TV cameras and reporters, and unloaded a dark secret for anyone to hear. “I have come forward today to give the church that I love,” said one of the brothers, identified as John Doe 1, “the opportunity to realize that what they did to me what was wrong.”
The brothers, who are identified in court records only as John Does 1, 2, and 3, allege they were sexually molested by a Sunnvale Mormon and Boy Scout leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Their tale has another twist: The man they say destroyed their youth is also their stepfather.
Their lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Boy Scouts of knowing about the abuse, but failing to stop it. The men, now in their late 30s and early 40s, say they told church leaders at the time what was happening, but no one did anything.
“I love this church … but the Mormon Church failed,” said Doe 1. “They betrayed me. When I told my childhood leader of the abuse, they did nothing. “
The suit identifies William Knox, 65, as the alleged abuser. Attempts to reach him and his attorney were unsuccessful. An attorney for the church said any allegation of childhood abuse is a serious matter, but noted that the law doesn’t make a church responsible for the conduct of a stepfather toward his children
The brothers are now estranged from their mother, who is still married to Knox. They said when they were children they tried to tell her what was happening to them.
“My mother knew, I told her,” said Doe 3. “I believe she relied on the church to help her and they did nothing.”
The brothers say the pain over what happened to them as children welled up in recent years. It’s the reason they’ve come forward now. They hope the airing of their story might help other children caught in the same situation.