A woman suing the LDS Church says her husband’s confession led to jail time

An Oregon woman is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for $9.54 million after her husband’s confession to church leaders led to his arrest, conviction and imprisonment on child sexual abuse charges.

The lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, involves a Turner man convicted of abuse after he confessed to Stayton clergy that he had repeated sexual contact with a minor.

Church officials did not respond to the Statesman Journal for comment.

The man's confession was meant to be confidential, said the family's attorney Bill Brandt.

Timothy Samuel Johnson and his wife, Kristine Johnson, were members of a Stayton, Ore., Latter-day Saint ward, or congregation, when his wife learned he had “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with a minor known to him, according to the lawsuit.

[Read more: A Utah bill would require clergy to report child abuse confessed to them]

After learning of the sexual abuse, the couple followed church doctrine by having Johnson confess and repent his sins before church clergy.

Brandt also said church leaders represented "that whatever the scope of Mr. Johnson's evil transgressions, the Church and its clergy will spiritually counsel Mr. Johnson to bring peace within his life and family."

Johnson confessed to local leaders and members of the church disciplinary council that he had sexually abused a minor. But what leaders failed to advise Johnson of is that if he confessed to the abuse, they would report his actions to local law enforcement, according to the lawsuit.

Johnson, 47, was arrested in 2017 on charges of first-degree sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful sexual penetration for sexually abusing a girl under age 16.

He later pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The lawsuit requests $5.5 million for his wife for loss of his income and for extreme emotional distress and $1 million for each of his four children.