A judge has ordered one of the defendants in a child abuse civil complaint filed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other parties to release 4,000 text messages between the defendant and the mother of the three victims.
The attorneys representing the three children who were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse for seven years, mostly at the hand of their father, Paul Adams, believe that defendant Shaunice Warr knew what was going on and that the thousands of text messages between her and the children’s mother, Leizza Adams, would reveal that.
Kathy Brody, the attorney representing Warr, argued she had already given the plaintiff’s attorneys 10,000 text messages between Warr and Leizza Adams, and that the remaining 4,000 texts are irrelevant to the abuse case.
But Cochise County Superior Court Judge Jason Lindstrom ordered that the remaining texts messages be released to plaintiff’s attorneys Lynne Cadigan and Taylor Boren so that they could decide whether they’re pertinent to the case.
“The court does find that it’s possible those 4,000 texts contain information that Ms. Warr knew (of the abuse),” Lindstrom said.
Tucson-based Cadigan filed a civil complaint last year against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and others associated with it for not reporting the mistreatment the youngsters suffered. The children and their parents were members of the church’s Bisbee ward, the complaint states.
Leaders in that organization were aware that Paul Adams — who was employed as a U.S. Border Patrol agent until his arrest in February 2017 and subsequent suicide in December 2017— was abusing the children because Adams sought counseling with church leaders for his acts, the complaint states.
Cadigan has said church elders are trying to claim clergy privilege as a defense for not divulging what occurred in the Adams household.
Cadigan and Boren said Thursday that Warr, who worked with Adams as a Border Patrol agent and also belonged to the Mormon Church in Bisbee, was close to the Adams family and had been sent to their residence by the church to work with the Adams children as a teacher.
Cadigan and Boren want the text messages between Warr and Leizza Adams in order to establish that Warr knew about the abuse and never reported it.
“Shaunice Warr knew more about what was going on than anyone,” Cadigan said at the hearing, which was conducted telephonically. “That’s why we need these 4,000 documents.”
Additionally, at a hearing for Leizza Adams, Warr testified that Paul Adams was so unhinged she would have shot him if he had ever “gone postal” in the office.
Paul Adams was arrested in February 2017 on the abuse charges and committed suicide in a jail cell in Florence in December as he awaited trial.
Leizza Adams, meanwhile, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison after pleading no contest to two counts of child abuse in 2018. She was also given four years probation, court records show.
In the initial complaint filed last year, Cadigan sums up the entire case in the first paragraph.
“This case involves horrible sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children between the ages of six (6) weeks and twelve (12) years old that went on for seven (7) years. The biological father of these victims made videos of his rapes and now these videos are everywhere on the world wide web. The perpetrator admitted his abuse and crimes to his Mormon Church, and received counseling for his crimes. The Mormon Church leaders knew about the abuse and yet no one reported these crimes to the authorities. The Mormon Church leaders gave guidance and care to these children for seven (7) years, sat next to them in Church and allowed these vicious crimes to continue.”
The lawsuit is filed against the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), Warr and other parties.
The 87-page complaint describes Paul Adams as an unstable, violent sociopath who killed the family pets in front of his children as a form of punishment and forced his wife to beat the youngsters.
Court records show some of the abuse, which occurred from 2010 to 2017, was recorded in the couple’s Bisbee residence and uploaded by Paul Adams to the internet.
At a hearing in December, Cadigan said she would like to speak to anyone who may know more about the case, including witnesses to the abuse. She can be reached at the Cadigan Law Firm, 520-622-6066.