Skip to comments.LDS bishop accepts plea deal for failure to report abuse
Posted on 03/13/2012 10:56:51 AM PDT by Colofornian
PROVO -- LDS bishop Amado Rojas stood silently beside his attorney Monday morning, then walked out only minutes later with a newly minted deal resolving allegations that he failed to report sexual abuse at a church activity.
Rojas, 32, was charged in September with failure to report child abuse, a class B misdemeanor, but Monday he accepted a plea in abeyance agreement with prosecutors. The agreement requires Rojas to obey all laws for six months, after which he can file a motion to have his charge dismissed.
Rojas's charge stems from allegations that a man sexually abused a 13-year-old girl at a church party in August. After a water fight at the party, the girl testified during a preliminary hearing, the man 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. The man was only arrested after his accuser later told a school counselor about the incident.
However, prosecutors dropped the abuse charges in November. Provo police Sgt. Mathew Siufanua said last year that the city decided to pursue charges against Rojas -- despite the dismissal of the man'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," Siufanua added.
But Rojas's attorney Mike Esplin said in November that Rojas only learned about the incident six weeks after it occurred and even then only received vague reports of what happened. Esplin did not believe anything "untoward" had occurred.
Monday, Esplin described the deal as an appropriate resolution to the case and said that it allows Rojas's original plea to stand.
"It means that there's no admission of guilt," Esplin said. "His not guilty plea stands."
Esplin speculated that Rojas will have no difficulty completing the plea in abeyance deal because he has no criminal history. Esplin also said that Rojas cooperated with investigators and has served as an LDS bishop for roughly five years. .
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This is an ongoing issue in the Mormon church -- lds bishops covering up sex abuse within their congregations.
In fact, there's another preliminary hearing going on with a trial about to be underway involving another Lds bishop -- Gordon Moon. See: Attorney for Mormon bishop challenges constitutionality of mugshots
When I mean ongoing within the Lds church...see six links @ post #1 here going back to Dec 2010: 2 alleged sexual abuse victims say church leaders failed to report abuse [Lds]