Former LDS bishop at center of AP investigation is arrested for suspected sex abuse

The alleged victim, his daughter, is confident Virginia will not be deterred by the Utah-based faith.

(Jason Dearen | AP)The exterior of a Latter-day Saint chapel is shown in Hailey, Idaho, from 2023. A former lay bishop from Idaho has been arrested in Virginia on charges of felony child sexual abuse.

Chelsea Goodrich was “still processing” the news Wednesday that her father, a former bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been arrested in Virginia on charges that he sexually abused her.

Raised a member of the Utah-based faith in Idaho, she came forward in 2015 with allegations that her father, John Goodrich, had abused her while she was growing up, including during a 1999 field trip to Washington, D.C.

The Salt Lake Tribune does not typically name victims of alleged sexual abuse. Chelsea Goodrich, however, has agreed to use hers.

In January, The Associated Press reported, her father was indicted after a grand jury in Williamsburg found probable cause that he committed four felonies, including rape by force, threat or intimidation, forcible sodomy and two counts of aggravated sexual battery by a parent of a child.

The AP reached out to John Goodrich’s attorney, who said he was not yet familiar enough with the case to provide comment. In a previous interview with The Tribune, the father denied abusing his daughter.

On Wednesday, Chelsea Goodrich, now in her 30s, told The Tribune that her dad, a practicing dentist in Idaho, went into hiding after the January decision. A manhunt ensued, she said, until he turned himself in this week.

He has posted bond, the AP reported, and will be allowed to leave Virginia during legal proceedings.

The arrest is the second to result from her accusations. In 2016, she and her mother gave evidence of the alleged abuse to police in Idaho. He was arrested, and the county prosecutor filed a criminal charge. The charge later was dropped after the man’s former bishop, to whom John Goodrich reportedly had confessed before being excommunicated, opted against testifying.

Idaho law protects clergy from having to provide details of alleged abuse obtained during a spiritual confession.

An AP investigation revealed how a representative of the church’s “risk management” team got involved in the case, paying Chelsea Goodrich $300,000 in exchange for a promise not to sue the church over the alleged abuse.

In a recording, the church attorney can be heard expressing concern for what he called John Goodrich’s “significant sexual transgression.”

(Jason Dearen | AP Photo) Chelsea Goodrich, shown in September 2023, told The Associated Press she is grateful Virginia is prosecuting her father for allegedly abusing her while she was growing up.

To this day, his daughter is convinced that had the church instead encouraged the bishop to testify, promising to support him regardless of any legal fallout, the case would have gone forward.

“They know he abused me,” she said Wednesday, referring to church representatives. “... I have to fight this battle all on my own because the LDS Church is suppressing the other witnesses involved.”

In a previous statement to the AP, the church said “the abuse of a child or any other individual is inexcusable,” and that John Goodrich “has not been readmitted to church membership.”

“Please,” Chelsea Goodrich said, “to whomever is in charge of making these decisions for the church, will you right this wrong?”

She does not believe it’s an accident that the case is going forward in Virginia, rather than Idaho. Now a licensed therapist, she said the “heavy Mormon influence” in Idaho “was not helpful” to her case.

In contrast, she’s not concerned that her father’s background as a former Latter-day Saint bishop will sway any judges or juries back East.

“The prosecutor isn’t going to be influenced by attorneys for the LDS Church,” she said, “or trying to save the reputation or image of the church by minimizing the publicity or the consequences to the perpetrator.”