When federal investigators target churches or religious figures, McChesney said, other issues, such as fraud or discrimination, have normally been involved.
In 2016, the Department of Justice won religious discrimination convictions against local government officials in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, who had ties to the FLDS. Those leaders were accused of discriminating against non-FLDS residents. A year later, FLDS church leader Lyle Jeffs was convicted after a federal indictment for food stamp fraud.
McChesney said investigating church leaders for a cover-up is more challenging than investigating specific crimes.
“You have to be able to prove that there was some intent to protect an abuser,” she said. “Is there proof somewhere that they were trying to hide or protect an abuser?”
This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.