PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — Provo police say officers arrested a former therapist reportedly accused of sexually abusing his gay Latter-day Saints patients following a standoff Wednesday in Utah County.
The Provo Police Department said the detectives had arranged to meet Scott Owen at the Spanish Fork Police Department, where he had allegedly agreed to surrender to authorities. But when he didn’t show up, a search began.
Detectives found Owen in his car near Thistle, about 25 miles southeast of Provo, where a standoff ensued, leading to a closure of part of Highway 89.
Tactical units with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office negotiated Owen’s safe surrender, police said. Officers booked Owen into jail on six charges of object rape and four counts of forcible sodomy.
No one was hurt in the standoff.
Provo police said they began investigating Owen following a pattern of abuse detailed in the media. On Aug. 3, The Salt Lake Tribune published an investigation wherein a number of Owen’s former patients, gay members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claimed he touched them inappropriately in therapy sessions.
In documents filed Wednesday in Utah County, investigators said they interviewed 12 victims who claimed they were sexually abused by Owen. The former therapist had allegedly told the men physical touch was part of his therapy and would “fix their relationships with men and help with their same-sex attraction.” Owen allegedly told the men not to tell anyone about the sessions.
“Doctor Owen used his position as a therapist to coerce the victims into engaging in kissing, cuddling, and sexual touching during therapy sessions,” the documents say.
In the wake of the story, the Salt Lake Tribune further reported that Canyon Counseling, the Provo business Owen had co-owned, closed not long after severing ties with him. The former therapist had built a reputation over two decades as a specialist who helps gay men in the Utah-based church.
In the court documents filed this week, Provo police said they are aware of other victims and believe other cases involving Owen are probable.