A Mormon bishop has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he failed to report a child sex abuse case after meeting with a teenage girl in his congregation.
Gordon Lamont Moon, 43, is charged with one third-degree felony count of tampering with a witness, and one class B misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse.
Eighth District Judge Lyle Anderson took the case under advisement following a December preliminary hearing and handed down a written ruling on the matter last week.
According to a court document, the 17-year-old girl was sexually abused by a younger teen in July. The girl’s father later asked Moon to speak with the girl.
"[Moon] said that I need to think about what [the teen boy] is going through, and I don’t need to start telling the cops or anything because he’s already going to have to go through a bunch of repentance and all that stuff," the girl later told police, according to court documents.
The girl told police in another interview that Moon "told me that he didn’t think it was a good idea [to talk to police] until he talked to [the boy and his parents]."
Prosecutors have said Moon was charged because he was the only person to attempt to stop the girl from talking to police — an allegation Moon’s attorney denies.
"He did nothing of the sort," defense attorney David Leavitt said. "It’s just a classic case of selectively deciding who you are going to prosecute."
Leavitt said prosecutors "view an LDS bishop as having a higher responsibility" to report allegations of abuse than others.
He added that the bishop was at least the fifth person to be told of the alleged abuse and that it had already been reported to police by the time of the meeting.
But in his ruling, Anderson said there had been no evidence presented that Moon knew the alleged abuse had been reported, and he "failed to immediately report" it himself.
Moon is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 23.
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