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With their marriages struggling, two women from the same church said Arturo Tenorio came highly recommended as a counselor by their LDS bishop.
But as they looked for help in reconciling their relationships, Tenorio who they later learned was only posing as a counselor focused on sex and eventually tried to take advantage of them, the women testified during a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
"I trusted my life to him," a 34-year-old woman testified, "and I thought he wanted really to help us."
Wednesday's testimony was enough for 3rd District Judge Charlene Barlow to bind over the 57-year-old Tenorio on two counts of second-degree felony forcible sex abuse. The Kearns man is scheduled to be arraigned April 12.
In court, one of the alleged victims said Tenorio stressed the importance of sex in a marriage over the course of five sessions. Then, during one session last November, Tenorio pulled down her shirt, grabbed her breasts and later simulated different sexual positions he said she should try with her husband, the woman testified.
After about 40 minutes, the woman said she wrote Tenorio a check for $280, thanked him and left.
"I was absolutely shocked," the woman said. "I didn't know what to do. I couldn't believe it was happening."
A second woman said Tenorio caressed her knee and leg and asked her if she was aroused. When he tried to grab her breasts and simulate sexual positions with her, she resisted, the woman said. Later, she said, Tenorio spanked her.
Defense attorney Kenneth Brown objected to that count being bound over for trial, citing insufficient evidence, but was overruled.
The women said they believed Tenorio was a licensed marriage counselor because he had been recommended by their bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tenorio is the brother of Octaviano Tenorio, a member of the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy a fact the women said both the bishop and Tenorio pointed out.
For those same reasons, one of the women said she didn't stop Tenorio's sexual questioning and advances when she could have.
"I felt like if he wasn't a [sex therapist] then we shouldn't be talking about sex," the woman said. "But then I thought, 'Well, my bishop sent me here, so maybe there's something I don't know.'"
That bishop, Alejandro de Santiago, caused a hearing to be delayed last month when he was subpoenaed to testify in court but did not appear. An attorney for the LDS Church objected to the subpoena, citing clergy-penitent privilege.
After a closed meeting Wednesday, Barlow ruled de Santiago could be called to testify to some aspects of the case.
Tenorio was not involved in plea negotiations with prosecutors as of Wednesday, Brown said. "We'll just evaluate our options as we need to," he said.