Women testify against faux Utah marriage counselor
Court • 2 women say LDS bishop’s word made them trust man, who then misled, fondled them.
Published: August 9, 2012 09:25AM
Updated: January 25, 2013 09:59AM
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Arturo Tenorio

West Jordan • The bishop told the women that Arturo Tenorio could help save their marriages.

Tenorio was a good man, who had helped others through counseling, the women said they were told. His brother, Octaviano Tenorio, was a member of the LDS church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, and Tenorio quoted scripture and Mormon prophets during counseling sessions.

“He was like a father to me,” one of the women said Wednesday, on the witness stand in a 3rd District courtroom. “My whole family is in South America and I didn’t have anyone to talk to about these things. He made me really comfortable. It really made me trust him.”

As the three-day trial for the 59-year-old Tenorio got under way Wednesday, two women from the same church testified that marriage counseling sessions soon turned sexual. Tenorio would make comments that made them uneasy and, eventually, he started touching them, they said.

Tenorio, who prosecutors say was only posing as a counselor, is charged two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse, stemming from November 2010 meetings with the women. Defense attorneys do not deny Tenorio touched the women. Instead, defense attorney Kenneth Brown focused his cross-examination Wednesday on why at least one of the alleged victims never tried to stop Tenorio’s advances.

The woman testified Tenorio often talked about sex during their sessions, but set the concern aside.

“If this isn’t right, then why did the bishop send me here?” she said in court.

But during their final meeting, he pulled down her shirt and grabbed her breasts.

“I just didn’t know what was going on,” the woman said in court. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t put two and two together.”

Later in the session, the woman said, Tenorio simulated different sexual positions he said she should try with her husband.

“Why didn’t you leave then?” Brown asked.

“I don’t know,” the woman said, upset. “Because I’m polite. He wasn’t done talking.”

About 40 minutes later, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing last year, the woman wrote Tenorio a check for $280, thanked him and left. She was pulled over by police a short time later, but made no mention of what had just happened.

The other alleged victim on Wednesday said Tenorio caressed her shoulder and touched her leg, working his hand up her inner thigh. He asked her if she was aroused, she said. When he tried to grab her breasts and simulate sexual positions with her, she resisted, the woman said.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk