70 years ago today - Nov 12, 1949

[Former apostle Richard R. Lyman, Letter to Stephen L Richards (regarding his excommunication for adultry)]
Deep down in my heart I feel as if I had no trial. I think I was in the presence of the Brethren fewer than ten minutes. Brother Joseph Fielding [Smith] said 'We desire to give this serious matter as little publicity as possible' then came that terrible publicity the very next day that was read all over the world. My Michigan classmates (and I had been made president for life of the class of '95) heard it everywhere. My engineering friends, some of them the greatest engineers in the world, began discussing it.

Does it not appear to you to have been a strange way to treat a friend after being in session with him all day under such conditions that at the slightest whisper he could have been held and he would gladly and quickly have explained his conduct. I say does it not seem to have been most unkind to have sent after him, not an automobile full but a bus as large as a streetcar full of armed officers who split and [s]mashed down the door as if they were endeavoring to capture the worse kind of wicked armed and fighting criminal. The Chief of Police, Reed Vetterli, told me immediately afterward that if he had known that I was the one involved he would not have permitted the officers to do it to say nothing of his leading it himself as he did. He was only told that they were after a 'Big Shot.'

More than six years have not passed since this tragic affair happened. Many have forgotten it and I am treated by my school and engineering friends as if nothing had ever happened and many Church people, apparently thinking I was harshly treated, pay me more attention than they ever did before. I went to Midvale [Utah] today to the home of a friend who has lost his wife and the people flocked around like a long lost brother and one woman insisted on my going to her home to see her father and mother. I feel as if I cannot go to any chapel except in my own ward. I never miss my sacrament meeting but of course regret having to refuse to partake of the sacrament.

Now as to my offense. For reasons that seemed to me to justify it I agreed to regard that woman as my wife and she agreed to regard me as her husband. While no written note was made of this agreement at the time the date I feel sure was Nov[ember]. 9, 1925. This relationship had gone on for 18 years in a most quiet way before the publicity of more than six years ago. It seems to me therefore, now that I am nearly 80 years old, and since the Lord knows my heart and all the facts concerning my case, it may be wisest and best, as I stated above, and after these six long years, to wait and let the Lord over there give me what I deserve. ...

If anything could possibly be done, without publicity to induce the Brethren to extend to me the hand of welcome and friendship in the Church Office Building and in our various places of worship that would be the richest blessing I could ask. But having had another wife since Nov. 9, 1925, although not living with her, this is a something that I presume is impossible.

Please regard this letter as personal and confidential. Perhaps after reading it you may think it desirable for us to meet again and discuss some of these things further. Some one has said: 'If a man has not done anything for which he ought to be ashamed or sorry he is not a very bad man.' I hope this is the case with me. Can I ever be forgiven for saying that?

[Richard R. Lyman, Letter to Stephen L Richards, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-1951, Privately Published, Salt Lake City, Utah 2010]

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