Skip to comments.Provo city to file charges against LDS bishop
Posted on 11/15/2011 6:34:44 PM PST by Colofornian
PROVO -- Provo city will pursue misdemeanor charges against an LDS bishop who allegedly failed to notify authorities after an underage congregant told him she had been sexually abused.
Amado Rojas will face one count of failure to report child abuse, according to Provo Police Sgt. Mathew Siufanua. The decision to pursue the charge comes after a lengthy investigation that began with the arrest of Jose Ortega in August. According to a 13-year-old girl, she and Ortega both attended a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints children's party. After a water fight at the party, the girl testified during a preliminary hearing, Ortega grabbed and groped her.
According to a police report, the girl then told Rojas about the incident. As an ecclesiastical leader, Rojas is legally required to notify authorities if an alleged victim tells him about abuse. However, police reported that Rojas did not contact authorities and Ortega was only arrested after his accuser later told a school counselor about the incident.
But while Rojas will face criminal charges, the case against Ortega was dismissed on Monday. Prosecutor Craig Johnson said that investigators recently managed to find another witness, whose testimony could have suggested that the touching occurred accidentally, rather than for sexual purposes.
Throughout the investigation into the incident, the extent of Rojas's knowledge was a focus for investigators. Provo police Detective Brian Taylor said in September that Rojas's attorney said the girl only offered a vague account that something had happened.
Rojas's attorney Mike Esplin said Tuesday that Rojas only learned about the incident six weeks after it occurred. According to Esplin, the accuser contacted Rojas between church meetings on a Sunday.
"She said the guy had grabbed her from behind, touched her over clothing," Esplin said of that initial contact between Rojas and Ortega's accuser. "She said it occurred at a Primary party and she gave the name of the individual."
However, Esplin said the girl was accompanied that Sunday by three female friends, and Rojas felt it would be inappropriate to discuss the topic in front of the other girls. As a result, Rojas reportedly told the girl to talk with her parents and come back.
While waiting for the girl to return, Rojas spent several days trying to find out what happened, Esplin said. Rojas contacted Ortega -- who Esplin said described the incident as an accident -- as well as another witness at the party. According to Esplin, Rojas was still waiting for the girl to come back and talk to him when a school counsel contacted police.
"I don't think there's anything untoward here," Esplin said.
Siufanua said the city decided to pursue charges against Rojas -- despite the dismissal of Ortega's case -- because ecclesiastical leaders are required to report abuse whether they believe it is valid or not.
"When you look at the law, it was specifically written to protect children from future abuse," he added.
Siufanua went on to say that leaders can face charges even if allegations of abuse turn out to be false. He also pointed out that the law exists to prevent situations like the sex abuse scandal currently engulfing Pennsylvania State University, Joe Paterno and accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky.
"If somebody would just have reported it, he would have been fired," Siufanua said.
Esplin denounced any similarity between Rojas's case and the one at Penn State. He said Rojas had acted properly and was legally required to report incidents if he had "reason to believe" they happened. Rojas was trying to determine just that, Esplin said.
"The other thing is the statute doesn't say how long a person has to report it," he added.
Esplin went on to suggest that prosecutors may be pursuing the case to send a message to LDS bishops, even though Rojas acted conscientiously.
In an email, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the church does not tolerate abuse.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and is extremely proactive in its efforts to prevent abuse and to help victims when it does occur," Trotter wrote. "Congregational leaders are instructed to obey the law and have access to a 24-hour help line to assist them. We contacted local authorities as soon as we learned of the situation and will continue to work with them until it is resolved."
The already open question on the table as of late September was: Why didn't the Lds bishop report a sexual abuse/groping act that was reported to him?
See Police questioning girl's bishop after alleged church groping [Did Lds bishop report groping?]
About six weeks go by. Nothing. Then the Penn State case breaks wide open.
Suddenly the most Mormon city in Utah (Provo) gets a conscience and elects to charge this Lds bishop, after all.
* Illegal alien liberal policy nuances... note these headlines & stories: 2 LDS branch presidents in Utah deported to Guatemala, El Salvador
* and Considering The Disconnect Between Some LDS Church Members and Leadership on Immigration
This seems to be an ongoing matter in the Mormon church:
* April, 2011: Mormon Church Denies Prior Knowledge of Susan Brock Affair With Teen Boy, Which is a Lie
* March, 2011: Sacramento News & Review
* February, 2011: Father of The 5 Browns pleads guilty to sexually abusing his daughters
* December, 2010: Did fellow Mormons cover up officer's baby molestations?
Then there's the slew of multiple Oregon Boy Scout abusers, many of whom were Mormon:
* Boy Scouts sex files now evidence in Oregon lawsuit
* Scout officials, Mormon leaders were warned of abuser, suit says
* Men sue Mormon Church, Boy Scouts in abuse case
* And the most recent article: Child sex abuse claims mount against Boy Scouts
Why doesn't the Mormon church draw the same MSM inspection level as, say, the Roman Catholic church and Penn State?
Meanwhile, over at Penn State...
You prompted a smile; and yet ultimately not funny from a victim's perspective
No, it isn’t. Personally, and it is just me, but anyone who intentionally harms a child for their own personal gain deserves death. And I personally would not have any problem bashing such said persons head with a base ball bat. What probably gets me in trouble with that is I would start somewhere in the shin bone area and work my way up.
Oh, well. All ballplayers go thru a slump sometime...poor mechanics, ya know.
Just be sure to have your batting coach video tape it to review with you later...Oh, and wear red. Not spatter-free...but less spatter-see /sarc
Well the current incarnation of the Salt Lake City sect anyway....
Didn't Jos. Smith have a thing for young girls?
And then there's the whole fLDS issue.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and is extremely proactive in its efforts to prevent abuse and to help victims when it does occur,” Trotter wrote.
d&c 132...sexual abuse, child abuse, wife abuse...
I don’t know. I think I’m my dad’s kid. Just went elk hunting with him. He told me he sure wanted to just get some blood on his hands. ;-)
So are you excusing lds because some other pervert abused a child or are you saying that there are perverts in all positions in authority over children and they should all be shot revived shot again revived again and then beaten to death with a bat.
Unfortunately some of these lds leaders are just following the example of the lds founders and their proclivity for underage girls.
Blue Moose, ALL: While ALL child victims of abuse -- in this case a medical center employee who "took indecent liberties" with a minor -- are relevant to this thread...
...and we can all lift this victim up in prayer [the article doesn't mention age or sex of the victim]...
...if your point was to pinpoint a "Baptist" abuser here...
...you utterly failed to make that connection at least with this post.
In case you aren't aware, the OVERWHELMING majority of employees at ANY given hospital or medical center that has some denominational name attached to it...
...be it Baptist...
...or something else...
...are not believers "churched" within that denomination!
I would have hoped you would have known this by this latter time in your life.
In fact, it's actually worse with a lot of these denominationally named hospitals. Many of them actually do abortions there!
They started off as wonderful representations of Christ's healing care; and then drifted off to be the shell they are today.
You know, BM, it's not that Christians disagree with Mormons that widespread apostasy exists and has existed. It's just that Mormons are DEAD WRONG in saying ALL Christian denominations are guilty of being 100% AWOL.
And so it is with these hospitals.
And don't just stop there...universities such as Duke, Baylor, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, and the like are not what they used to be re: representing their Christian origins. Same is true of Catholic universities like Boston College, Notre Dame, Villanova, Marquette, and many others.
Victims are NOT to be ignored; and left to fend for themselves...therapeutically...justice-wise...spiritually.
So I appreciate you raising awareness about them and the Baptist perpetrators (posts #11, 12, 13) who are being -- or have been brought -- to justice.
Now. If we could ever get a Mormon to say something similar to that when Mormon victims turn up left and right, I might drop dead from shock. (Yeah, I know, I'm sure I've just tempted a Mormon or two)
We have to all put victims first...no matter what "damage" it does to the local church and their broader church body.
* Lds-owned publications do a decent job of that.
* Lds bishops? That's another matter -- and is much more hit & miss.
Lds FREEPERS? They're not even in the hit & miss camp. I can't recall on ANY of the abuse threads EVER a single Mormon FREEPER who raises the issue of that particular Mormon victims. If it's a non-Mormon victim they may make some great comments...like Jeff Head has done a great job this week raising the plight of Penn State victims.
But if it involves a Mormon victim, it's like they want to hide it. Put the victim away in the basement or something. Cover it up. PR Damage control.
FREEPER grassroots Mormons are to be shame-filled over how they've refused to acknowledge REAL Mormon abuse victims.
Sorry. But they don't go away.
There are victims everywhere Colofornia.
It is pretty shameful of you, IMHO, to try and lump all LDS members on this forum into a category where you indicate that we “don’t care,” that we “ignore it,” that we somehow turn away from it.
That simply is not true, for me personally of for most of the members of our Church I know...and for that matter of any other that I am aware of and whom I know personally.
Like all large organizations (in this particular case numbering over 15 million) there is good and bad. We have sexual predators amongst us just like can be found in any other. There are Bishops who do not do their duty to their flock...to their members. There are members who do the same.
There was a Stake President from Montana who came to Boise Idaho a few years ago and was arrested because he was planning to meet an underage girl for sex...except “she” was an undercover policeman and the perptrator was nabbed and ended up going to prison.
I believe there were threads on FR about it at the time. I said then and will say now. I knew that individual personally. He had at one time been our Bishop. I one time talked to him directly about my own concerns about my own underage children at the time...daughters and sons...and indicated to him that if someone ever sexually abused one of my children I would kill that person...and rid society of worrying about them doing it again...even though it may be considered wrong.
He advised me at the time that I would deprive my family of my presence through years when they would need me. I indicated I understood that and it was a hard thing...but that I did not think I would be able to help myself...amnd would, with a clear conscience throw myself willingly on a jury of my peers and accept their verdict.
Later I wondered if my discussion with him may have helped ensure that he did not try with my kids what he was ultimately arrested and incarcerated for.
Victims of any crime, and particularly child victims of sexual abuse need our love and our protection. It is a moral imperatvie on all of us as individuals if we know of it or see it to help those being abused and see that justice is served on the abusers.
That imperative should know no religious, political, national, geographical or other bounds.
Agreed. And as we've seen with Penn State, sometimes there are more enablers in certain places than others.
For example this thread. Even you haven't specifically addressed the Mormon bishop enabler who's the topic of this thread...yet you somehow found plenty of opportunity to comment on the Penn State enablers.
(Yes you very broadly may have in some hidden way lumped him in when you said: "There are Bishops who do not do their duty to their flock..."
That hardly ranks with your sharp to-the-point statements you've made about the Penn State enablers this week. So you see what I mean? You rush in to say "that's not true" and then you prove that I'm on to something in a distinct way...in that you don't apparently wish to talk about THIS specific bishop that THIS specific thread is about. Why not?
It is pretty shameful of you, IMHO, to try and lump all LDS members on this forum into a category where you indicate that we dont care, that we ignore it, that we somehow turn away from it. That simply is not true...
Jeff, do you know how many threads I've posted re: Lds abuse victims?
Alright, that's a rhetorical Q. (I don't even know)
But a fair number. I wish I could say that for every Lds FREEPER post mentioning an Lds victim, that there were "only" 20 posts about me -- the thread-poster. But I don't think I can...because I think your post here was the first that got Lds FREEPERS out of the zero category...and zero can't be multiplied and represented in ratios like 15 to 1 or 20 to 1.
But that's my point Jeff. Why do Lds threads about Lds perpetrators and Lds victims often become attempted hijacks about whoever posted the article?
As for the rest of your post, I appreciate you sharing the abuse story you told. You are a cut above other Mormon FREEPERS in integrity.