Daily Herald (Utah)
Associated Press | Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:02 pm |
A Duchesne County Mormon church leader is facing criminal charges for allegedly failing to report an allegation of child sexual abuse brought to him by a teenage congregant seeking help.
Prosecutors have charged Gordon L. Moon with third-degree felony witness tampering and misdemeanor failure to report suspected abuse.
If convicted, the 43-year-old Moon faces a prison term of up to five years for the felony charge and up to six months in a county jail for the misdemeanor. A summons has been issued for Moon to appear in Duchesne’s 8th District Court on Sept. 1.
Investigators say that about a month ago the girl disclosed the assault to Moon, who counseled her not to report the incident to police, Duchesne County sheriff’s Det. Dan Bruso said.
The victim’s parents, who had encouraged their daughter to seek support from her church leader, then contacted police, Bruso said.
“They just weren’t impressed with his services.” Bruso said.
In an interview, Moon told investigators he didn’t believe he was required to report the incident, Bruso said.
“We’re a little frustrated. We teach the kids to go tell a responsible adult. That’s what this victim did and a responsible adult didn’t follow through,” Bruso said.
The alleged sexual assault is now being investigated by authorities in Kane County, Bruso said.
Steven Foote, the county attorney, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
A telephone message left at Moon’s Duchesne home wasn’t returned on Wednesday and it was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Moon serves as a bishop for a Duchesne congregation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
Utah law requires clergy to notify police if they learn of abuse unless the information comes by way of a confession from the offender.
Church officials are instructed to comply with the law, Hawkins said.
“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 protect children and heal victims from this societal plague. Bishops are instructed on how to report abuse and to follow applicable law.”
It was not clear Wednesday whether Moon would continue to lead his congregation while his case is adjudicated.
A Duchesne County School District secretary, who declined to give her name, also confirmed that Moon is an elected member of the school board who is serving in his first term. The district superintendent, David Brotherson, did not return a message.