February 24, 2005

A Mormon Daughter's Book Stirs a Storm

The New York Times


Published: February 24, 2005

The daughter of one of Mormonism's most prominent religious scholars has accused her father of sexually abusing her as a child in a forthcoming memoir that is shining an unwelcome spotlight on the practices and beliefs of the much-scrutinized but protectively private Mormon religious community.

"Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith" details how the author, Dr. Martha Beck, a sociologist and therapist, recovered memories in 1990 of her ritual sexual abuse more than 20 years earlier by her father, Dr. Hugh Nibley, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and arguably the leading living authority on Mormon teaching.

The book, being published next month by Crown, an imprint of Random House, has attracted significant criticism both for its depiction of sacred Mormon ceremonies and for the author's effort to tie her sexual abuse to what she says were mental disturbances suffered by her father because of his role as the Mormon Church's "chief apologist."

Dr. Nibley, who is 95, is ailing and is physically unable to respond to questions, Alex Nibley, one of eight Nibley children, said in a statement. Dr. Nibley has been aware of Dr. Beck's accusations for several years, Alex Nibley said, and maintains that they are false. As part of a defense of their father, Dr. Beck's seven siblings have condemned her assertions and have hired a psychologist and lawyer who has worked on lawsuits against therapists practicing recovered-memory therapy.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2005 07:47 PM