Police say Springville man, religious leader groomed, victimized teen over 4-year period

Photo: Utah County Sheriff/Facebook

SANTAQUIN, Utah, April 19, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A 54-year-old Springville man and religious youth leader has been arrested for the second time in two weeks for child sex crimes involving underage boys, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

The latest arrest occurred Monday after an investigation by the Special Victims Unit found the man had “groomed and victimized” a teenager over four-year period beginning when the boy was 13, according a news release from the sheriff’s office.

The teen told police the man would give him money following instances of sexual abuse “and tell (him) he couldn’t say anything because he was paying him,” according to a probable cause statement filed in Provo’s 4th District Court. The alleged child sexual abuse occurred more than 100 times, and the teen estimated he was paid $15,000 over a three- to four-year period, according to the statement.

The man is being held without bail in the Utah County Jail for investigation of forceable sodomy and human trafficking, both first-degree felonies, as well as class A misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse involving physical injury, and obstructing justice.

Gephardt Daily has chosen not to use the man’s name to protect the identify of the alleged victim and potential victims.

“Detectives continue to investigate this case, and they believe it is very likely that there are others who have been victimized by him,” the news release states.

The man previously was arrested on April 5 following an investigation into child pornography involving underage boys being found on the man’s cellphone at work on March 29. He faces four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, in that case.

Following the first arrest, the man told police he serves as a youth adviser to Deacons in his church. Deacon is priesthood title generally held by 12- and 13-year-old boys in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“(The man) has a position in his church where he works with young men and boys in the same age range as those depicted in the pictures found on his phone,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

The man’s niece also was arrested Monday for allegedly fighting with detectives who went to her home to arrest the man, according to the sheriff’s office.

Detectives say the man refused to leave his niece’s home after he was informed he was being arrested for child sex abuse, according to the probable case statement.

“(The man) braced himself in the doorway by placing his hands above his head on the door jam,” the statement continues.

“(The woman) grabbed onto (the man) in an effort to pull him back inside the home as detectives tried to arrest him,” the news release states. “(The woman) fought with detectives, swinging her arms and hitting them, before they were able to take her into custody.”

The woman was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of assault on a peace officer and obstruction of justice, both class A misdemeanors. She was later released on bail.


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