PROVO, Utah — Tensions were flying between the Utah County Attorney and Sheriff Mike Smith on Wednesday.
County Attorney David Leavitt asked Smith to resign, even calling for an investigation into his activities. It all stems from an investigation into allegations of a ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking case that took place over a 20-year period beginning in 1990.
Leavitt said the case, which spans three Utah counties, involved a woman who he says was mentally ill and made claims of sex abuse against 15 people. Those allegations were found not to be credible, causing the case to be dismissed.
“There is no organized ring of abuse," said Leavitt. "It was it was debunked more than ten years ago. The allegations that are there are so outlandish and so crazy that they're just not true.”
During a news conference, Leavitt admitted that he and his wife were named in the allegations, saying the two were not guilty of cannibalizing and murdering young children.
"If it can be demonstrated that the sheriff has used his office for political purposes and there is no evidence of that I would bring to court, but if an investigation can demonstrate it, then I am saying the sheriff should resign," said Leavitt.
A FOX 13 News report revealed one of the targets of the investigation was a therapist who was previously charged with a series of sex crimes against young female family members.
The Utah County Attorney's Office dropped charges against the therapist without prejudice and he was never convicted.
About two hours after Leavitt made his plea for Smith to resign, the sheriff responded, saying what the County Attorney said was disturbing and even contradictory on more than one occasion, and that he even possibly tainted the sheriff's office investigation.
"I will tell you right now, I think that this is probably the best way we could use public funds is to investigate child sexual abuse," said Sheriff Smith. "I take exception to any victim who comes forward and is characterized as tragically mentally ill, how dare you?"
Smith added that he will not be resigning.
“This is some of the most egregious crimes that happen in our communities, when our children are victimized to this level," he said. "And we will look into this. You can label it and deflect and say whatever you want, we will continue to investigate.”
The sheriff said his department's investigation is ongoing and that they were contacted by no less than 20 people since posted about this crimes Tuesday.
“I think that this is probably the best way we could use public funds, is to investigate child sexual sexual abuse," said Smith.
It is worth noting that both Leavitt and Smith are up for re-election for their respective positions. The sheriff shot down any notion that the information about the investigation was released for political gain.