SALT LAKE CITY — As her case was headed to trial, prosecutors reduced the severity of charges against a woman accused of disrupting a session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ General Conference.
The decision at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday means Crystal Legionaries will not face the threat of jail time. Instead, the most she could face is a fine. Prosecutors dropped the charge of disrupting a public meeting from a class B misdemeanor to an infraction.
“In most misdemeanor prosecutions if we are not going to seek jail it’s our practice to just reduce them to infractions,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who oversees Salt Lake City’s prosecutors, told FOX 13. “It saves taxpayers money and costs of a jury without denying them their day in court. That’s our practice and this case is no exception.”
Supporters of Legionaires have questioned why Gill’s office leveled charges against her at all as they raised funds for her legal defense. During the April 2018 General Conference, Legionaires shouted “stop protecting sexual predators” at LDS officials. She was escorted from the Conference Center grounds and later charged by Salt Lake City prosecutors.
In an interview with FOX 13 at the time, Legionaries said she was upset about the Church’s response to accusations of sexual abuse within its ranks.
“We need to focus on all the individuals who are neglected and forced to be silent,” she said.
Legionaries’ attorney, Greg Skordas, said the move denies his client the right to a jury trial. She will next face a judge in August.
“I think many times prosecutors feel like they have a better chance with a judge than with a jury, especially on a case like this where there may be some public sympathy for the accused,” he said.