HomeNEWSFormer mayor, Mormon bishop gets prison for child sex abuse

Former mayor, Mormon bishop gets prison for child sex abuse

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A former Utah city mayor and one-time bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced Thursday for child sexual abuse at a hearing in which his victims wept while detailing the torment they endured.

Four women, now adults, cried as they detailed how painful it was to watch Carl Matthew Johnson, now 78, live a joyful life while they kept abuse that happened when they were little girls secret for decades. He was arrested last year on charges of abuse dating to the 1980s and 1990s, some of it while he was mayor of West Bountiful, a city just outside of Salt Lake City he led from 1990 until 1997.

“You don’t deserve the freedom you’ve enjoyed all your life and to continue living like nothing happened,” said Jessie Gold Price.

Gold Price, who gave AP permission to identify her, said it was excruciating and confusing to watch everyone in Johnson’s life praise him as a great father and person as she dealt with the aftermath of the abuse. She said Johnson wrote her a letter in 2015 confessing to the abuse.

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She said she has dealt with panic attacks, major anxiety and depression and called the abuse a scar that will never go away. At one point as she spoke by video at the virtual hearing and asked to speak directly to Johnson.

“How could someone who was a Latter-day Saint bishop do this?” How could a mayor do this?” Gold Price says she constantly asks herself.

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

Johnson pleaded guilty in January to four counts of sexual abuse of a child in a plea deal that resulted in several other charges being dismissed. The judge gave him the maximum sentence of nine years to life for three first-degree felonies and one to 15 years for a second-degree felony count, all to run consecutively.

Gold Price and three other victims testified at the hearing that they have struggled with feelings of self-worth, making meaningful relationships, and having suicidal thoughts because of the abuse.

Johnson, who appeared at the virtual hearing from jail, apologized for his actions and accepted responsibility for his “lies, deception and hypocrisy.”

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

Several friends and fellow church members testified on behalf of Johnson, asking the judge to take into account a life of service to others as a good church member.

Judge David J. Williams said any good deeds did not make up for the crimes Johnsons committed. He lamented how long the abuse was kept in the dark.

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