Non-consensual Touching of Genitalia in Columbia River Temple

In 2002 I was instructed to get naked and was inappropriately touched without my consent in the Columbia River Temple in Richland, Washington.

I had arranged to go through the Temple for the first time in order to be sealed to my wife. To members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is considered a major milestone. As such, my wife’s family was planning to join us in the sealing room. I was eager to take the next step and show them that I was serious about both their daughter and their church.

We had attended a rudimentary “Temple Prep” class at a member’s home, but nothing specific was discussed. We were only told that some ordinances happen in the temple that we may not be used to, but to rest assured that they were necessary for our eternal salvation. As members are instructed to not discuss Temple specifics outside of the temple, the class was intentionally vague, and didn’t prepare me at all for what was about to happen.

Immediately after arriving at the temple, my wife and I were separated. I was instructed to disrobe and put on what they called a “shield’. In reality, this “shield” was a very thin poncho, with completely open sides giving full access to the areas of my body that were normally covered. Everything felt very rushed. I was in shock, but wasn’t given enough time to fully process what was going on, let alone voice an objection.

I was rushed into a smaller area like I was on an assembly line. At this time an elderly man began touching me under the “shield”. He touched me in several places with some kind of anointing oil. I was uncomfortable with the touching, but again it was all happening so fast, and I thought it had some kind of spiritual significance that I just didn’t understand. Then it happened. He again reached under the poncho, this time he touched me on the testicles. I was already in shock, and frankly, disoriented. When this happened, my immediate thoughts were, “I don’t like what is happening, and I want to leave”. But, I couldn’t say it, because I was trapped. I was basically naked, and to object to this “ordinance” would be to not only denounce my sincerely held religious beliefs, but to abandon my promises of eternal commitment to my wife and her family. Again, it all happened so quickly, I was in shock, and the stakes were high. So I just pressed forward. The elderly man then put my new “garments” on me. In layman’s terms, he had my underwear in his hands, had me step into them, and he put my underwear onto me. This was extremely uncomfortable, extremely unwelcome, but again, I had no way to say no without going against my religion, risking divorce, and disappointing everyone.

I went through with the rest of the ceremony, but it was clear in my mind. I had inadvertently joined a cult. And I was terrified.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it is forbidden to discuss anything that happens inside the temple. I felt blackmailed in some ways. I thought I couldn’t even tell my wife what happened without risking spiritual consequences.

Had I been told the truth about the temple ceremonies ahead of time, I would never have agreed to go through with it. But, as I had no idea what was coming, and I was separated from my wife and unable to discuss any of this with her, I felt like I had no choice but to go through with it.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints misrepresents and hides the details of their temple ceremonies, under the guise of being “sacred”. But this has enabled them to perform non-consensual naked touching. I hear that they have since modified this part of the ceremony to remove the nakedness, but it is infuriating to know that they got away with this for decades.

To this day, I can’t get these events out of my mind. That was the first and only time I went to the temple. What should have been a special memory of getting sealed to my wife is now a painful memory of being naked while an elderly man deliberately touched my testicles and other parts of my naked body without my consent.

– Brother R

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