Emotional Debate as Senate Advances Bill to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

In an emotional Senate debate Tuesday, two male senators admitted that as children they were sexually abused, one by a stranger, another by an extended family member.


Another male senator said he had a creepy incident with a Mormon Boy Scout leader at a camp, which stopped just short of some kind of sexual abuse.

Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said in debate that he has never talked in public about his abuse.

A cousin and nephew of the famous Donny and Marie Osmond family, Osmond said that he was sexually abused by a non-family member.

Sen. Dan Thatcher, R-West Valley, said that as a 7th grader – after being brutally bullied by other kids – he learned Kung Fu, and as part of that training learned how to fight back when attacked – “and that no one has the right to hurt you.”

“Walking to school, late, across a field we all used,” recalled Thatcher, he was attacked by a strange man.

“I fought like a demon; hit, punched, bit, screamed off my little 70-pound head off.”

Luckly, some adult nearby heard and came to his rescue, but not before the man had ripped his pants zipper right off.

Statistically speaking, more than just three of the 29 senators were sexually abused as a child, even if some of them don’t want to talk about it, said Thatcher.

The third senator, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Bountiful, had the least physical incident.

At a Mormon Boy Scout camp, after practicing for his rifle merit badge, an adult supervisor asked Weiler to stay after and help him clean up.

After that was done, said Weiler, the man asked if he could take a picture of Weiler and himself. Weiler said sure.

The man asked Weiler to take off his Boy Scout shirt. Weiler did, and the man stood behind him, wrapped his arms around Weiler, hugging him as the auto-camera took the picture.

Only later did Weiler beging to wonder what the man was really up to.

“What the heck was that about?” Weiler remembers thinking to himself.

“It never went further,” said Weiler. But looking back years later, he became convinced that the scout leader was working up the courage to molest him or some other Boy Scout member.

The debate came as Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, tried to amend HB286, a bill that would set up a special sexual abuse warning/education class to be conducted in Utah public elementary schools.

The sticking point is whether parents should have to opt into such instruction for their children, or whether parents would only opt out of such a program.

Great debate in both the House – which passed the bill 73-0 – and Senate over whether parents should be forced to be pro-active – opt into the sexual education class – or post-active – be informed that the class instruction is coming, given the curriculum beforehand and allowed to attend with their child, or ask that their child be excused from such instruction.

Osmond said he was raised in a large family, active in their LDS Church, and seen by others as a perfect family.

But his parents were struggling with financial and other problems when he was a young boy, and, frankly, if they had even seen the note from the school about a pending sexual abuse class, they likely would not have acted upon it.

So, if HB286 had only an parental opt-in provision, he would not have gotten the class.

And he would have missed the vital kind of information that just might have saved him from being sexually abused by a non-family member.

Dayton’s amendment to make the class an “opt-in” was narrowly defeated before Senators advanced the bill on a 20-8 vote.

It will likely be up for final passage on Wednesday.