Former West Valley LDS Bishop Accused of Sex Abuse

Associated Press/April 20, 2004

A former Mormon bishop from this Salt Lake City suburb was jailed Tuesday on allegations he sexually abused a teenage boy over a three-year span.

David J. Gomez, 57, has not been formally charged in Salt Lake County, but likely faces numerous counts of sodomy, forcible sexual assault, aggravated sexual abuse and sodomy on a child, said West Valley City Police Capt. Craig Black.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's office did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The alleged abuse involves a boy whose family approached police about three weeks ago, saying he had been abused, beginning when he was 14 years old and ending when he was 17. The abuse allegedly happened between 10 and 13 years ago, and included several incidences of fondling and other sexual activity.

Police said at least one other person may have been abused.

Gomez met the boy through church-related activities, police said.

Gomez is the director of Utah Correctional Industries, which employs about 700 inmates to make road signs and license plates for the state, said Corrections Department spokesman Jack Ford. Ford said Gomez has been on unpaid administrative leave since Monday afternoon, when West Valley City police officers showed up at Corrections Department headquarters to arrest him.

Dale Bills, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the church had cooperated with investigators.

"The church was shocked to learn recently of these allegations,'' Bills said, "particularly considering the relationship of trust that must exist between a bishop and the members of his congregation.''

Mormon bishops are lay, unpaid local church leaders who frequently interact with rank-and-file members.

The Mormon church is not alone when it comes to sexual abuse allegations against its officials.

The Diocese of Salt Lake City reported earlier this year there were 18 credible child sexual abuse allegations made against Catholic priests in Utah since 1950.

Those allegations were made against 13 priests, who are no longer active in the ministry in Utah or anywhere else in the United States, Bishop George Niederauer has said.

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