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Victim, family share experience with church youth leader arrested for child porn

Posted at 11:58 AM, Apr 07, 2022

SPRINGVILLE, Utah — A family is sharing their story after a Springville man they knew was arrested for child pornography.

Kevin Sykes, who served as a youth leader with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, faces four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor for explicit images of children that were found on his phone.

The man contacted FOX 13 News, but asked to remain anonymous while detailing he became a victim of Sykes.

“I was eight years old. I think it might have started when I was seven,” he said. "At first it was just like, you know, someone I knew, and then he started getting closer to me and my family."

The victim talking said the events took place around 12 years ago and claimed Sykes was grooming him and slowly and methodically making his moves.

“He'd get my attention with something that would catch my eye,” the man said. “And then he would, you know, he would use that against me; like 'Hey, if you want more candy, you can't tell your mom, you can't tell adults about this,' and in my head, since I didn't, I was young, I didn't know it was wrong?”

The man's mother also spoke with FOX 13 News.

“I was really glad to see that he was arrested, but it brought up a lot of emotions and I am very sad to see that he has continued to do this. He was very aggressive almost immediately, but at the same time very, very sly about all of it. It didn't take very long though. It was just a few more months before I realized what he was doing.”

Sykes was arrested after a tip from his workplace lead Utah County Sheriff's Office deputies to him.

“One of the big problems is that there are victims in those pictures, and finding where they are and getting them the help that they need is difficult," said Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

When officers searched the phone, Sykes had several images of young boys ages 8-to-16.

More disturbing to officials and victims was Sykes’ position within his local church.

“We believe since he has had regular contact like that, that there may be some risk that there are victims who have been what we call contact victims out there,” said Cannon.

Investigators are still in the early stages of an investigation, but they are asking anyone who has information or is a victim to come forward.

“We don't know that there were victims with certainty,” Cannon said. “But we, in cases like this, it's a high likelihood. But we want people to be aware for nothing else than to protect their children and youth who might have had interaction with Mr. Sykes.”

That's a plea that those who say they are victims of Sykes share

“It's not easy to lose sleep and go back and think about things that have happened to you. But please, please come forward. Please be courageous enough to come forward,” said the mother of the victim who spoke with FOX 13 News.

The victim also asked other victims to come forward.

“You're brave to talk to someone, you're not different. They won't look at you differently. You're the same old person you are, but you just had something bad happen to you.”

Anyone with information on Sykes can contact the Utah County Sheriff's Office at 801-851-4010.

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If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or the online chat hotline at rainn.org/resources. In an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.