Former mayor, bishop of Mormon sentenced to prison for child sex abuse

Salt Lake City (AP) —

The former mayor of Utah and former bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted Thursday of child molestation. the pain they endured.

Four grown-up women detail how hard it is to watch Carl Matthew Johnson, now 78, live a happy life while keeping his childhood abuse a secret for decades. He cried as he explained. He was arrested last year on abuse charges dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. Some of that happened when he was mayor of Bountiful, a city just outside Salt Lake City, which he led from 1990 to 1997.

Jesse Gold Price said, “You don’t deserve to live the freedom you’ve enjoyed all your life like nothing happened.

Gold Price, who gave the Associated Press permission to reveal her identity, said everyone in Johnson’s life considered him a great father and person as he deals with the aftermath of his abuse. She said Johnson wrote her a letter in 2015 confessing to the abuse.

She said she has dealt with panic attacks, major anxiety, and depression, and called the abuse scars that never go away. is.

“How could someone who was a Latter-day Saint bishop do this?” How can the mayor do this? ”Gold says his Price is always asking himself.

Authorities have not disclosed any allegations of abuse since the 1970s when he was a bishop.

Johnson pleaded guilty to four counts of child sexual abuse in a plea bargain in January and several other charges were dismissed. 2005, and sentenced maximum sentences of 1 to 15 years for second-degree felonies, all in a row.

Gold Price and three other victims testified at the hearing that the abuse caused them to struggle with self-esteem, have meaningful relationships, and have suicidal thoughts.

The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse unless they allow their names to be used.

One victim said she didn’t remember the abuse that happened when she was a toddler until her mother told her what happened in 2001 (when she was 22). Her mother told her to keep it a secret to protect her Johnson, she testified.

“This was a secret that weighed heavily on me and should not have been a burden on me,” she said at a remote hearing.

She said the abuse of her and two others remained a secret until 2012 when Johnson abused another girl. However, Johnson was never arrested.

“Everyone around me acted like it was no big deal, so I didn’t understand the gravity of his sin.

Authorities have not said whether there were previous reports of abuse prior to the investigation that led to the 2022 arrest and indictment.

Johnson was the church’s bishop from 1974 to 1979. A bishop is a lay minister who oversees the local congregation for years at a time, in a rotating role assigned only to men of the faith popularly known as the Mormon Church.

Prosecutor Adam Branch called Johnson a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who manipulated and deceived his church, community, family and friends to protect him and live “in bliss.” I made it possible.

“He had the privilege of living for 30 years while the victim was tortured,” Branch said. “While the children were suffering, he was able to go to parties and smile and be a pillar of the community.”

Appearing from prison for a virtual hearing, Johnson apologized for his actions and admitted responsibility for “lies, deceit and hypocrisy.”

“I am truly sorry and deeply remorseful for my serious, heinous and heinous act. I violated your personal and sacred innocence and took advantage of your trust in me,” Johnson said. “I am deeply sorry for what I have done and acknowledge the hurt, stress, suffering and trauma I have caused.”

Several friends and fellow church members testified on Johnson’s behalf, asking the judge to consider his life of serving others as a good church member.

Judge David J. Williams said good deeds did not compensate for the crimes Johnson had committed. He lamented how long the abuse had been kept in the dark.

“Johnson could move, or try to move, his life forward by portraying himself as a pillar of the community while his victims suffered in the shadows,” Williams said. rice field.