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FOX 13 Investigates: Weber County failed to protect little girl from confessed predator despite red flags

Posted at 9:40 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 23:40:50-04

WEBER COUNTY, Utah — Investigators say a little girl in Weber County was sexually assaulted by the same man for years, despite multiple arrests and confessions from the suspected predator.

Padrick Leitz, 21, was first arrested and charged with multiple sex crimes on September 15, 2019, when the female victim was just three years old.

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred said prosecutors were required to drop all charges against Leitz once state medical professionals found him to be “mentally incompetent to stand trial.”

Upon Leitz’s release, he was arrested on suspicion of similar crimes on April 8, 2021 against the same victim when she was five years old.

A female witness said she saw Leitz acting inappropriately with the girl in the back seat of a car, in broad daylight. The suspected crime took place next to an elementary school in South Ogden.

In both cases, officers said Leitz confessed to the crimes.

“The person has turned out obviously to be a danger,” Allred said. “The law is, if someone is not competent to proceed, you simply cannot prosecute… A person needs to be able to understand on some level the nature of the charges against himand have some level of ability to aid in his own defense.”

Although the state was not able to prosecute, Allred admitted allowing the suspect back into society in 2019 was a mistake in hindsight.

“The fact that we don’t have a lot of resources to deal with this very situation is very troubling,” Allred said. “The only other tool I can think of in a case like this might be a civil commitment.”

The Utah Department of Human Services defines civil commitment as “a legal process through which an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness is court-ordered into treatment in a hospital (inpatient), or in the community (outpatient).”

If a suspect’s mental health is deemed to be not “restorable,” they could be held indefinitely so long as they are found to be a threat to themselves or others.

Although the Weber County Attorney’s Office discussed the possibility of asking for a civil commitment in the Leitz case, prosecutors never filed because they did not feel they had enough evidence.

This is despite the fact that, according to a probable cause affidavit signed by investigators in 2019, family members reported “Padrick (Leitz) had a history of being inappropriate with children” including “several instances of possible sexual assault beginning in the 8th grade.”

Greg Skordas, a defense attorney and former prosecutor not affiliated with the case, agreed that prosecutors should have asked for a civil commitment significantly prior to the 2021 arrest.

“Someone certainly failed this little girl,” Skordas said. “Whether it was family members, whether it was the system, everyone seemed to know that was his predilection, so to speak. The system should have been more aggressive.”

Allred defended the decision to not seek a civil commitment in 2019.

“We looked at it in 2019,” Allred said. “We had some problems there because the circumstances were such that the victim was separated from the defendant, and we had no way to perceive at that time that the victim was going to be back in the path of the defendant.”

“Couldn’t you have argued that any other minor child could have been victimized?” asked FOX 13 investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

“Yeah, I think we perhaps could have made that argument,” Allred responded. “It would have been a better, cleaner argument if we could have made the case that this particular victim was at risk, and under the circumstances it was going to be difficult to prove that… The victim’s mother actually passed away, something we certainly couldn’t predict.”

“It probably should have been a little more closely looked at, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t,” Skordas said. “Absolutely this man should have been civilly committed. We wouldn’t have a re-victimization.”

“I don’t regret it because I think we looked at the circumstances,” Allred said. “I think we considered that, took it into consideration. If we had not considered it, I would certainly regret that we hadn’t done that.”

Leitz’s attorneys have already asked for a second mental competency exam in the 2021 case.

If the results of the mental competency exam are unchanged, prosecutors said this time their approach will likely be different.

“We will look at (civil commitment) as the case progresses, if it comes to that, and see whether that’s a possibility, whether that’s something we can pursue, and if we can in this case we will,” Allred said. “By and large, I think the justice system is set up pretty well, but this I think has exposed a problem… I simply don’t know what other options there would be, at least for the criminal justice system.”

Leitz is scheduled back in court on June 9, 2021. It could take several months for the Department of Human Services to determine his competency.

His family declined to speak to FOX 13.

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