Statement on Rape
The First Presidency


 
To: General Authorities; Regional Representatives; Stake, Mission, and district Presidents; Temple Presidents; Bishops; and Branch Presidents

Dear Brethren:
The following policy on the subject of rape has our approval:

Victims of rape or sexual abuse frequently experience serious trauma and unnecessary feelings of guilt . Church officers should handle such cases with sensitivity and concern, reassuring such victims that they, as victims of the evil acts of others, are not guilty of sin, helping them to overcome feelings of guilt and to regain their self-esteem and their confidence in personal relationships.
Of course, a mature person who willingly consents to sexual relations must share responsibility for the act, even though the other participant was the aggressor. Persons who consciously invite sexual advances also have a share of responsibility for the behavior that follows. But persons who are truly forced into sexual relations are victims and are not guilty of any sexual sin. Whether a person is forced in this manner depends on so many individual circumstances that Church officers should normally refrain from assigning moral guilt to a victim who has been subject to significant force of credible threats, leaving final judgment to the omniscience of the Lord.
Young victims of sexual abuse are likewise guilty of no sin where they are too young to be accountable for evaluating the significance of the sexual behavior. Even where acts are committed with the apparent consent of a young person, that consent may be ignored or qualified for purposes of moral responsibility where the aggressor occupied a position of authority or power over the young victim.
Persons threatened with rape or forcible sexual abuse should resist to the maximum extent possible or necessary under the circumstances. The extent of the resistance required to establish that the victim has not willingly consented is left to the judgment of the victim, who is best acquainted with the total circumstances and their effect on his or her will.
This supersedes the statement contained in our letter dated June 4, 1984.

Sincerely yours,

Spencer W. Kimball
Marion G. Romney
Gordon B. Hinckley

Section 127

Doctrine & Covenants