Navajo Nation judge weighs jurisdiction of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Mormon church

Gallup, N.M. • A Navajo Nation judge is weighing if sexual abuse lawsuits against the Mormon church should proceed and where the cases should be heard.

The Gallup Independent reports that attorneys for both parties argued before Judge Carol Perry on Monday on why the cases should or should not continue in tribal courts.

The five lawsuits filed in tribal courts claim Native American children were sexually abused while enrolled in the church’s Indian Student Placement Program. The cases have bounced between tribal courts and federal court in Utah over questions on jurisdiction.

Attorneys for both sides have agreed that the allegations were said to have taken place in areas outside the Navajo Nation in Utah or Arizona.

Attorneys for the church argued that Navajo courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction.

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