Paul A. Douglas
17. The Numerous Accusations of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Levelled at Joseph Smith
In this day when all around us men in positions of power and influence are being made to account for their cowardly abuse and harassment of women, I think it altogether appropriate to raise the issue of Joseph Smith’s proclivity in this regard.
As I write this, we have seen United States Senator Al Franken resign amide at least six accusations of inappropriate behavior with women. U.S. Representative John Conyers, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, and of course U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore have been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct. In the world of entertainment, allegations also abound. Comedians Bill Cosby and Louis C.K., actors Jeremy Piven, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman. producer Harvey Weinstein, NBC anchor Matt Lauer and let’s not forget the man who currently sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump.
Sexual harassment is hardly a new phenomenon, but the deluge of disturbing allegations of sexual assault and harassment by powerful, high-profile men has prompted an increasing number of brave women to come forward with their harrowing tales of sexual abuse and harassment and have declared, “me too!”
We are all familiar with Lord Acton’s dictum that, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The one thing all of the above have in common is power. The power of their position, the power of their wealth, the power of their celebrity.
Like our esteemed President’s vulgar conversation with “Access Hollywood’s” Billy Bush, Joseph Smith freely and openly bragged about his use of women. “He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked, that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this” (“Interview with William Law. March 30, 1887,” Daily Tribune: Salt Lake City, July 31, 1887).
In 1827, Levi Lewis accused Smith of trying to seduce sixteen-year-old Eliza Winters and reports hearing Smith and Martin Harris say that, “adultery was no crime.”
In 1832, we find Eli Johnson “furious because he suspected Joseph of being intimate with his sister Nancy Marinda Johnson.” It was this that led to the tarring and feathering of Smith and the attempted castration.
A year later in 1833, a Mrs. Alexander quoted Polly Beswick as saying: “It was commonly reported, Jo Smith said he had a revelation to lie /with/ Vienna Jacques, who lived in his family. Polly told me, that Emma, Joseph’s wife, told her that Joseph would get up in the middle of the night and go to Vienna’s bed. Polly said Emma would get out of humor, fret and scold and flounce in the harness. Jo would shut himself up in a room and pray for a revelation. When he came out he would claim he had received one and state it to her, and bring her around all right.”1
In that same year, 1833 Miss Hill, a servant in the Smith household claimed that Smith made indecent proposals to her, “which created quite a talk amongst the people,” and which Smith supposedly admitted to Martin Harris.
In 1933, we have Fanny Alger aged 16, which the Church likes to list as a ‘marriage’ even though there is no marriage license and it came prior to any revelation on sealing and the which William E. McLellin tells us that Emma witnessed the actual copulation through a crack in the barn.
At some time prior to 1886, Sarah Pratt said that “Lucinda Harris who was a married lady, a very good friend of mine. When Joseph had made his dastardly attempt on me, I went to Mrs. Harris to unbosom my grief to her. To my utter astonishment, she said, laughing heartily: “How foolish you are! I don’t see anything so horrible in it. Why I am his mistress since four years!”2
Sarah Pratt. Sometime in late 1840 or early 1841 John C. Bennett, Joseph friend reported that he told him that, “he was smitten by the “amiable and accomplished” Sarah Pratt and wanted her for one of his spiritual wives.”
Smith told Sarah, “Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives. I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest desire of connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or deny me.”
To which Sarah replied, “And is that the great secret that I am not to utter, am I called upon to break the marriage covenant, and prove recreant to my lawful husband! I never will” She added, “I care not for the blessings of Jacob. I have one good husband, and that is enough for me.”
To which Smith replied, “Sister Pratt, I hope you will not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not expose me. Will you promise me that you will not do it?”3
In the fall of 1841, Melissa Schindle was staying with the widow Fuller, who had recently been married to a Mr. Warren, in the city of Nauvoo, tells us under oath that Joseph Smith came into the room where she was sleeping at about 10 o’clock at night, and after making a few remarks came to her bedside, and asked her if he could have the privilege of sleeping with her.4
In 1841 Catherine Fuller Warren also swears under oath that Smith got into bed with her without her invitation.5
FairMormon takes the same tack that Roy Moore and Donald Trump et. al. have taken, deny, deny, deny. These women are all liars.
1 “Mrs. Warner [sic] Alexander, Statement , original in Stanley A. Kimball Papers, Southern Illinois University; typescript in Linda King Newell Collection, MS 447, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.”
2 W[ilhem] Wyl [pseud. for Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal], Mormon Portraits, or the Truth about Mormon Leaders from 1830 to 1886, Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and His Friends: A Study Based on Fact and Documents (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing, 1886). 60.
3 “If you should tell,” the Prophet added, “I will ruin your reputation, remember that” (Bennett 1842a, 228-31
4 John C. Bennett, letter dated 27 June 1842, “Bennett’s Second and Third Letters,” Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Ill., 15 July 1842. Reproduced in Bennett’s History of the Saints: or, An Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism (Boston: Leland & Whiting, 1842), 253–54.
5 Ibid, p.14