A former therapist at the center of what the Utah County Sheriff’s Office has called a “ritualistic” sex abuse investigation is facing new charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a young client.
David Hamblin, 68, was charged Tuesday with six counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Prosecutors allege the man molested a boy between the ages of 4 and 5 during therapy sessions at his Spring City home at least six times between 1990 and 1992. He’s accused of touching the boy inappropriately, according to charging records, and forcing the child to perform a sex act on him.
This is the second time in the last month that Hamblin has been accused by authorities of sexually assaulting a child. He was arrested and charged last month with multiple counts of sodomy of a child, rape of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child and lewdness involving a child after a woman came forward in April alleging she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Hamblin, who was her neighbor, in the mid-1980s.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office announced a month after the woman made these statements that its investigators were looking into “ritualistic sex abuse” allegations that date back to the decades between 1990 and 2010 and span Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties. Authorities didn’t publicly identify Hamblin as a suspect until he was arrested last month.
In a Tuesday statement, Utah County sheriff’s officials said the latest alleged victim came forward after Hamblin had been arrested in September.
In the latest case, a man told investigators that Hamblin “administered religious blessings” during some of their therapy sessions in the early 1990s, when the abuse reportedly occurred, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff’s officials said the man had previously told someone that he was abused at some point, but said the alleged victim felt at the time that he wasn’t taken seriously “because of Hamblin’s standing both in the Spring City community and Hamblin’s standing because of his membership in and involvement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It’s not clear who the man previously disclosed the abuse allegations to.
In June, a former client of Hamblin’s separately told The Salt Lake Tribune that the therapist had diagnosed him in the early 1990s with multiple personality disorder due to ritual sex abuse as a child. At the time, Brett Bluth was an adult, and said he had started therapy because he was struggling with being gay while being a member of the LDS Church. He said Hamblin convinced him that he was sexually abused by satanic worshippers in his childhood, which was why he was gay.
Bluth said he had reservations about the diagnosis, but kept seeing Hamblin for two years until the therapist encouraged Bluth to perform a sex act on him as a way to heal from his trauma.
Afterward, Bluth said, “He prayed over his semen that it would undo the unrighteous semen that had been placed inside my body as a kid. And I was disgusted.”
Bluth said he never went back to the therapist after the sexual contact. He said he came to the realization that nothing the therapist had told him was real several months later, after meeting several other patients who all told him they had received the same unusual diagnosis of multiple personalities due to ritual childhood sex abuse.
“I just started going, ‘Oh my God, I’m not unique,’” he said. “That was not what I thought it was. That was all planned and it’s been repeating.”
Bluth said he confronted the therapist about the sexual contact that he alleges happened during his treatment and told Hamblin that if the therapist didn’t report himself to state regulators, Bluth would.
The therapist did turn himself in to regulators. Records from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing show Hamblin gave up his psychologist license in 2000 after admitting he “had intimate relationships with several patients during clinical therapy sessions and claimed to some of these patients that the intimacy was therapeutic to them.”
The latest investigation became central to the recent Utah County Attorney race after David Leavitt publicly tied himself to it in a June news conference, shortly after it was announced. In the news conference, Leavitt said he was named in a report from that time period that according to him was connected to the case and denounced the new investigation as politically motivated, which the sheriff denied.
That report, which The Tribune obtained through a public records request, includes an unverified witness statement from an alleged victim who accused Hamblin and more than a dozen others, including Leavitt, of taking part in a cult of ritualistic child abuse, murder and cannibalism that she said she witnessed as a child.
Hamblin faced charges more than a decade ago for child sex abuse accusations involving that alleged victim, but they were dropped in 2014 after prosecutors said they were having trouble getting medical records and other documents to corroborate her report.
The person who made the allegations in that witness statement is not listed in recent charging records.