A former LDS bishop was arrested late Wednesday in the Utah County community of Mapleton. Erik Hughes was booked into jail on a series of felony charges including sexual exploitation of a minor, forcible sexual abuse and witness tampering.
The two male victims are now adults, but the offenses occurred before they turned 18. A probable cause statement says Hughes gave one young man a drug that made him sleepy and then touched him under his clothes. The other victim told police Hughes had touched him inappropriately on several occasions and that they had exchanged explicit pictures.
The witness tampering charge is based on a statement from one of the victims who says Hughes came to him within the past month, said he was being falsely accused of a crime and asked the victim to keep silent.
Mapleton Police Chief John Jackson says they’d like to know if there are any other victims in the case.
“We’re willing to listen to anybody that has information about Mr. Hughes or that has known him in the past, or may know of somebody who’s been alone with him in the past,” Chief Jackson told KSL Newsradio.
“There is zero tolerance for abuse of any kind in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said church spokesperson Eric Hawkins in a statement issued to media. “When local leaders first learned about this matter, they immediately reported it to law enforcement. We have supported and cooperated fully with the law enforcement investigation. This individual has been removed from any position within the Church. Anyone found guilty of abuse of this kind would also face serious Church discipline, including loss of Church membership. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We will continue to reach out to them and their families to provide support and love.”
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