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Investigators demonstrate confidence in evidence of Utah ritualistic child sex abuse

Posted at 10:24 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 02:43:11-04

UTAH COUNTY — Police and prosecutors are demonstrating a high level of confidence in the evidence they've gathered so far in an ongoing ritualistic child sex abuse and human trafficking investigation.

One of the suspects, a therapist, was in court on Tuesday attempting to get his record expunged.

According to documents obtained by FOX 13 News, the man had previously confessed on an undercover recording to sexually assaulting at least one of the alleged victims. The Utah County Attorney’s Office previously dismissed the charges without prejudice.

FOX 13 News has chosen not to identify the therapist at this time.

“I think (the case) may be politically motivated,” said Stephen Frazier, an attorney representing the therapist.

The claims of a “politically motivated” investigation echo statements made by Utah County Attorney David Leavitt on June 1, 2022.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office sent out a vague press release on May 31, 2022, seeking tips related to the investigation. The department said it opened the investigation in April 2021 after discovering other victims had previously reported similar incidents that took place in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County from 1990 to 2010.

The next day, Leavitt publicly named himself as a suspect – announcing he is not a murderer, a cannibal, or a child sex abuser.

“I really want to call out FOX 13. Are they here?” Leavitt asked at the news conference. “Shame on your news station. Shame on Adam Herbets.”

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Leavitt stated that he does in fact have ties to the therapist, but he felt questions about the allegations against him were unfair. He also expressed that he believed information about the case was only being publicized because of his upcoming bid for reelection.

“There is no organized ring of abuse. It was debunked more than 10 years ago,” Leavitt said in June. “The allegations that are there are so outlandish and so crazy that – yeah, they’re just not true... That this all occurs less than one week before ballots drop in an election in which I am participating causes me tremendous concern.”

Statements being made by Leavitt’s own high-level employees now contradict their boss.

“I would take exception to the suggestion that this is politically motivated,” said Criminal Division Chief Chad Grunander of the Utah County Attorney’s Office. “This is about trying to do the right thing for this investigation.”

“It is sensitive given the election that this office just went through,” he continued. “Your Honor, my boss, the current county attorney, made some statements – some public statements – that touches on this case, and somewhat of a firestorm was created.”

When deciding whether to grant the therapist’s expungement, Judge Roger W. Griffin removed the Utah County Attorney’s Office from the case due to a conflict of interest. He ultimately agreed to revisit the expungement request in six months, especially if charges are not filed against the therapist.

Leavitt described his relationship with the therapist in June, emphasizing that he previously prosecuted the man.

“When I was in law school, this therapist was my elder’s quorum president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Leavitt said. “He was my neighbor. I had a family connection.”

Craig Barlow, a director with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, emphasized to Judge Griffin that the ongoing investigation is firmly progressing. For example, the investigation never stopped when Leavitt lost his bid for reelection.

“Your Honor, this is the investigative file,” Barlow said, holding up a binder. “There’s about 1,000 pages of information there.”

According to UCSO, more than 130 people have called in tips related to the investigation – plus nearly a dozen others who initially planned to talk but suddenly chose not to.

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