Utah men sue LDS Church, pineapple company for alleged child sexual abuse

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WAILUKU, MAUI – Attorneys for two Utah men filed a complaint in a Hawaii court that alleges the men were sexually abused in their youth while attending a pineapple camp run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc.

The suit alleges that the two men were abused by Brian Pickett, a man who worked in positions of authority at the camps, and the suit also names Youth Development Enterprises.

The complaint is available as a PDF: Filed complaint

According to a press release, attorneys said the LDS Church and ML&P recruited boys from Mormon communities in Utah and Idaho to pick pineapples in Maui, which is where the plaintiffs were allegedly sexually molested. Pickett was first a camp coordinator and then a vice president of operations overseeing two camps between 1986 and 1988, according to the release.

“There were hundreds of boys over more than a decade cycled through these camps,” attorney Randall Rosenberg said in the press release. “Hundreds were exposed to the alleged sexual predator in our case. We do not know how many others may have been molested, but our experience is that child sexual predators with access to kids have multiple victims.”

LDS Church Spokesman Cody Craynor released the following statement on behalf of the LDS Church in response to the lawsuit:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and works actively to prevent abuse. This case was filed yesterday, and many details in the legal complaint are unclear. The Church will examine the allegations and respond appropriately.”

According to the lawsuit, Pickett allegedly molested the plaintiffs while they were boys at the ML&P barracks, and abuse of one boy allegedly went on at Pickett’s home. Pickett was the boy’s boss, as well as their spiritual leader, as he served as their Branch President. The suit alleges Picket baptized one 15-year-old boy and then sexually molested him.

“We believe Brian R. Pickett used his position over our clients as their supervisor and religious leader to gain access to the boys and manipulate them,” said attorney Craig Vernon in the release. “The [Mormon] Church marketed this as a safe, wholesome and exciting adventure; fly to Hawai’i and pick pineapples. That was extremely attractive to Mormon boys in Utah and Idaho in the 70s and 80s.”

The lawsuit was filed under a new Hawaii law that created a two-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to come forward, regardless of when the alleged abuse took place. That window is until April of 2014, according to the release.

In the press release, attorneys said they are seeking more than money and are asking the LDS Church to “take concrete steps to prevent future abuse and for the healing of the victims.”

The attorneys specifically suggested changing corporate policies that direct members and leaders to contact church officials rather than the police or child services when they suspect alleged child sexual abuse. They also suggested changing policies that state LDS Church leaders should try to avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases involving abuse. They suggested other measures relating to transparency and action in cases of alleged sexual abuse.

FOX 13 News will have more information as it becomes available.

9 comments

  • Oh bite me

    If guilty, they should be castrated and spend the rest of their lives in prison being molested themselves. Funny I don’t see this story posted on KSL.

  • Terrel Transtrum

    And if not guilty, who will restore the good names of the accused? The petition is a fishing expedition that includes “JOHN DOES 1 – 10.”

  • Anne A.

    I think no matter long the years back since the 1980’s that this man Brian Pickett should be put away in Prison for a long time as along as the time when those 2 young boys were molested and suffered in silence all those years. This is terrible what this man Brian Pickett did to them. This story really make’s me upset and it bother’s me a lot. Brian Pickett was a leader and these 2 boys trusted him. Brian Pickett took alway their innocence. I don’t like this man Brian Pickett…He is should be ashamed of himself..this is disgusting to me. Put Brian Pickett in prison and lock him up and throw away the key. seriously..

    • Arlee

      I do not condone any kind of abuse. But at this point, Anne, you should be really tired from your exercise -Jumping to Conclusions without the facts. Or do you have them. In America we are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Let’s let the judicial system handle this (politically correct) situation.

  • Lorin

    I picked pineapples in Hawaii during the 1980s under the same organization. While I feel bad for the men who said they were molested (I wasn’t, don’t know anybody who was) and while I hope they get justice, linking the LDS church to this is a real stretch.

    This was run by a private business that sought out returned missionaries as supervisors and marketed to LDS members among others (not all the boys were LDS), but these men were primarily employees of the company. I don’t think the church was involved in giving them any kind of calling, although they did run unofficial services at the camp. Basically, it was kind of “churchy” in its approach, but I don’t recall any of the LDS men having or claiming a church title of any kind — certainly nothing that could have been construed as “spiritual leader.”

    Hope the guy gets convicted (I’ve never heard of him), but connecting the church to this seems to be more or a potential cash grab than anything else.

  • Blair

    For those hoping he gets convicted without being proven guilty should be ashamed. I personally know this man and he is a good friend. This breaks my heart he is being accused of this. If he did in fact do this, then he should be punished accordingly. However, until proven guilty he is innocent. I can not imagine this man ever doing anything of the such. I knew him throughout my entire youth and never once did he show any characteristics of a molester. He is a kind and loving man, who has worked very hard to provide for his family. For those claiming they were molested by him, if true I feel awful they have had to go through this in their life. These are serious accusations and I hope through the judicial system justice will be served for either the plaintiff or defendent.

  • Gene Stone

    Blair I personally know this man as well and he is a thief and a liar. He still owes me $6000 that he promised to repay and never did, so when these allegations came out it did not surprise me. It is obvious these men are suffering and while I feel for Brian’s family (they have been duped too) he truly has lived a life other than what he has claimed to live. I’m sure his wife is aware of his demons but has done what many dutiful LDS wives do, and that is pray for him to overcome his attraction to men.

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