SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Is the 120-day jail time sentence, for a former bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, charged with attempted sexual abuse, too lenient?
“For a first time offender, that’s long enough for you to lose your job, and long enough for you to lose your home. That’s long enough for you to be severely punished,” explained Marshall Thompson, Director, Utah Sentencing Commission.
Jeffrey Byron Head originally faced two counts of felony forcible sex abuse and two counts of lewdness. Head was found guilty by a jury of third-degree felony attempted forcible sex abuse, misdemeanor sexual battery, and two counts of misdemeanor lewdness.
Head was given a suspended sentence of 0-5 years at the Utah State Prison should he not comply with the terms of his 4-year probation. He is to not have any contact with the victims or their families.
He was also given a fine of $9500 and is required to register as a sex offender.
Thompson says for cases like Head’s, the initial focus should be on treatment and not jail time.
“If they continue, if they have a lot of criminal history, and they’re showing riskier behavior, there may come a point where they need to be separated from society.”
According to a probable cause statement, Head touched one of the victims on his “scrotum with his index finger,” and spoke about “masturbating” with another child while “rubbing” his shoulders.
Although it is public information, there are more details and additional sexual encounters in the probable cause statement that ABC4 News will not include in this web article.
Even though documents state Head did inappropriately touch the victims, a jury didn’t fins enough evidence to find him guilty of forcible sexual abuse. They only found enough evidence to find Head guilty of attempted forcible sexual abuse.
“I can reason that what they found is that on one of the touchings it wasn’t done with the intent necessary to satisfy a forcible sex abuse second degree felony,” Blake Nakamura, Chief Deputy, Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, told ABC4 News.
During our interview with Nakamura, it was asked if someone with Head’s kind of authority, someone in a position to groom children who trust him, should receive a harsher conviction.
“I am certain that his relationship to the victims and indeed the families was a consideration.”
Report child abuse:
Utah Child Protective Services (CPS) 1-855-323-3237
You will need information such as the child’s name, address, location, who the child’s siblings and parents are, and what your suspicion is. If the child is in immediate danger call law enforcement.
Utah’s ‘Duty to Report’ law requires all citizens age 18 and older to report suspected abuse and neglect. You have the option to report anonymously.
Prevent Child Abuse Utah has a free online course designed to inform parents about abuse. Click here to take the course.