Judge puts subpoena of LDS Church president on hold

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SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has put a subpoena for testimony from LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson on hold while other issues in a series of sex abuse lawsuits against the church are decided.

At the end of a hearing Monday in U.S. District Court, Judge Robert Shelby decided to hold off on ruling on the subpoena seeking to force President Monson to give a deposition. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seeking to have the subpoena quashed.

President Thomas S. Monson at LDS General Conference in October 2013. (Image via Mormon Newsroom, © 2013 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

President Thomas S. Monson at LDS General Conference in October 2013. (Image via Mormon Newsroom, © 2013 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

Outside court on Monday, Craig Vernon, an attorney for the alleged victims, told FOX 13 they would continue to argue that the LDS Church leader’s testimony is necessary.

Judge Shelby argued to attorneys that there were other issues that needed to be considered first, including which court will hear the lawsuits. The LDS Church argued that federal court in Utah should hear the cases since the alleged sex abuse occurred here. Lawyers for the four suing the church want Navajo Tribal Court to hear it.

Judge Shelby said he would issue a ruling in the case soon.

Four people are suing the LDS Church, accusing it of not doing enough to stop abuse they claim happened to them in the church-run “Lamanite Placement Program” or “Indian Student Placement Program” in the 1960s and 1970s. The LDS Church has said it has made changes to its abuse reporting policies in recent years, including better methods of tracking accused abusers.