Jury finds former Latter-day Saint bishop guilty of sex abuse, lewdness

Jeffrey Byron Head. Photo: Salt Lake County

DRAPER, Utah, April 29, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A jury has found a former bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints guilty of forcible sexual abuse, as well as sexual battery and lewdness.

Jeffrey Byron Head, 54, was charged in December with two counts of forcible sex abuse and two counts of lewdness following allegations by several teenage boys. According to documents filed in 3rd District Court at that time, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Head and bail was set at $150,000.

Head was found guilty of the following:

  • Sexual battery, reduced from a second-degree felony to a class A misdemeanor
  • Attempted forcible sexual abuse, third-degree felony
  • Two counts of lewdness, a class B misdemeanor

The charging documents said that in May 2016, Head arrived at an alleged victim’s home unannounced and asked about his recent surgery, then touched him inappropriately. Two other people also corroborated this account.

In September through October that same year, that same alleged victim said Head would pick him up and take him for milkshakes, and while there, talked to the victim about masturbating. He also rubbed the victim’s shoulders, removed his shirt and placed his hand on the victim’s thigh.

Another individual said Head would discuss sex and masturbation “all the time.” That alleged victim said Head would ask about his “erections while making out with girls.” In August 2017, this same alleged victim said that after a Church activity, Head offered to give him a ride home, then when they were in the victim’s driveway, Head locked the vehicle’s doors and said, “We have to figure this masturbation thing out. You’re not leaving until we figure this out.” Head then discussed masturbation with him further.

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“He states that while he could have left, he chose not to because he felt defendant was supposed to be a family friend, a leader for him to look up to, and that defendant would be angry if he ran away from defendant,” the statement said.

About a week later, the charging documents said, Head entered that same alleged victim’s home without permission and sat on the bed with the victim, who wasn’t wearing a shirt, and discussed masturbation again. The victim had to ask Head to leave three times before he left, the documents state. The sister of that alleged victim also told police that Head told her to leave them alone when she entered the room.

One of the alleged victims described Head as “awkward and really touchy feely,” and that he talked about masturbation a lot, and that the touching involved “shoulder rubs, hand rubbing and thigh grabbing.”

The LDS Church issued a statement in December saying Head was removed from his position within the church.

“Abuse of any kind cannot be tolerated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the statement said. “Anyone who engages in such behavior is rightfully subject to criminal prosecution and will also face discipline from the Church, including loss of Church membership.

“Upon learning of these allegations, we took steps to notify authorities and to support their investigation into this matter. This individual was also immediately removed from any position in the Church.”

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